Anointing the Sick

Homily at the Céilí Community Mission to the Drumraney and Ballymore Parishes

Mass for Anointing the Sick – Acts 28:7-10 and Mark 16:15-20

I don’t wish to alarm you unduly, but I hope you’re aware that today’s Mass includes the anointing of the sick?

We all know how that works, don’t we? Unexpectedly, your Uncle Jimmy or Aunty Breda, who hasn’t been to Mass for twenty years, is suddenly rushed into hospital and the doctor looks at you darkly. You learn your relative has about 36 hours left in this world and you know what you have to do. You call the priest; the priest brings the holy oil, gives the blessing, and your loved one goes quietly into the hands of God. So when the priest comes through the door to give the Sacrament of Anointing, you know the Grim Reaper is waiting just outside… and that’s how our Catholic faith has worked for generations.

You know what? It’s not meant to be like that!

I mean yes, if you call a priest to someone’s deathbed God will forgive their sins through the Sacrament of Anointing, and that will help them go to heaven, but we’re not exactly following the instructions Our Lord left for us!

Can you think of even one example in the Bible where Our Lord Jesus Christ, or one of his apostles, was called to a sick person, and said to them ‘Your sins are forgiven – now go to heaven?’

No. You won’t find that anywhere. The only person who got a free pass straight to Heaven was the Good Thief. Remember him? He confessed next to Jesus when they were both being crucified – and though his actions might have been sick, his body was perfectly fine until they nailed him there.

So what did Our Lord do when he was on earth? He opened the eyes of the blind, helped lame people to walk – and when his friend Lazarus died, he brought him back from the dead. We’ve just the Gospel where Jesus tells his apostles to go out and do the same thing – heal the sick. And they did!

We read in the Book of Acts how Peter and John used the name of Jesus to heal a man who couldn’t walk, begging outside the Jewish Temple. Both Peter and Paul raised young people from the dead. And in our first reading today, St Paul is on the island of Malta, where he is asked to do something about a very upset stomach – and by God’s grace, he can!

What do all of these healings have in common? Each time, either the sick person or one of their friends goes in search of a minister. They have hope that God’s power can touch their lives, and they’re not afraid to ask for it. It might be a blind man crying out ‘Jesus have mercy on me’ – or a desperate father pleading for Jesus to come to his dying daughter – or a bold group of friends making a hole in a roof so they can drop their mate right in friend of Jesus’ nose! But their hope drives them to take a step of faith.

A few years ago, I was going to visit a friend, who lived outside my parish, for her birthday. She rang to ask if I could bring the holy oil to anoint her friend who was suffering from back pain. When I got there, I carried out the rite of Anointing. When I did so, two remarkable things happened: the woman in pain received a momentary experience of God’s loving presence… and the pain went away.

Now in my nearly twelve years of priesthood, that was only the second time that a remarkable physical recovery quickly followed an anointing, and the first time, as far as I know, that someone had a personal experience of God’s presence. But these touches of God’s presence can and do happen; the Sacraments become more fruitful when celebrated in a community with strong faith, and that day I think it was significant that a believing friend of the sick person had the faith to ask for the Sacrament.

Now, I know that many of us do pray when someone in our family is sick. Some of us might even have called the priest early in someone’s sickness for them to receive the Sacrament. I don’t want anyone to feel condemned if they’ve prayed for a long time and not seen any healing. God is the one who decides where and when the gifts of healing are given. I know that if we don’t ask, we don’t get. If we do ask, we may get – so today is an opportunity to ask and see what God will do.

If the god you believe in couldn’t heal someone through the Sacrament, your god is too small.

If the god you believe in wouldn’t heal someone through the Sacrament, your god is not the one Jesus called Father.

If the god you believe in hasn’t healed someone through the Sacrament, isn’t it time to give God another chance? Jesus teaches us to be persistent in our prayer.

The Sacrament of Anointing the Sick is God’s gift for those who are sick to the point where our lifestyle is affected. It’s not for coughs and colds which will pass in a week or two. It’s for afflictions of our bodies and of our minds. If you suffer with migraines, or depression, or anything chronic in your head which puts you off balance, that’s a good enough reason to come forward. If your body is past its peak and daily living involves aches and pains, that’s also enough reason. At this service, no-one is going to ask you why you want to receive the Sacrament – that is between you and God. We have hope that sometimes God will work a wonder in our body or in our mind as a sign of the Kingdom to come. And we have certainty that everyone who is anointed receives both the forgiveness of sins, and a promise of God’s strength to endure.

Remember, you don’t have to have a Mission for a sick person to be anointed. If there’s someone who’s sick and who’s not here this afternoon, they can ask their parish priest to come at any time. But for you who are here, it is time to take a step of faith. Come!

Children of the Light

Sermon for members of Couples for Christ at the shrine of Nazaré in Portugal. Votive Mass of Our Lady Queen & Mother with readings of the day.

Try to imitate God. As children of his that he loves.

On this day, in 1971, a child was born in Italy. Chiara Badano was given the gift of deep faith, and as a teenager she already knew that Christ wanted to be Lord of her life. She did her best to follow him, living exactly the kind of life that St Paul was talking about.

She chose purity, not impurity. We too must choose to keep our bodies for marriage, and not even choose to look at impure images.

She chose to avoid coarse talk and to make sacrifices in order to serve others cheerfully.

So successfully did she become a ‘child of the light’ that the people around her nicknamed her ‘Chiara Luce’, Clear Light!

That light shone brightly, but not for long. Today in 1990 should have been her 19th birthday… but three weeks earlier, she died from the consequences of bone cancer. Nevertheless, in the ten years during which she had been seeking to live as a follower of Christ, the light shone so strongly in her that the Church has declared her Blessed. But until she is made a saint, we cannot celebrate her Mass outside her own country.

Today’s Mass is a votive Mass of Our Lady. The light of Christ shines so brightly in the Blessed Mother that we may find her hard to imitate. Which of us can be at the same time a virgin and a mother? Who among us was conceived without sin?

Yet this raises another question. If Our Lady is perfect, why did she appear at Fatima and ask for prayers to heal her wounded heart? Eight years after the 1917 apparitions, Our Lady of Fatima appeared again to Lucia, and said: “See, my daughter, my heart surrounded by thorns which men constantly drive into it with their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to comfort me…” – and she went on to ask all of us to offer special prayers for this intention on the first Saturday of each month.

So is Our Lady sitting at a desk in heaven, monitoring all these prayers on earth with a special app, a kind of ‘Gracebook’? “You have 100 million followers. A billion Hail Marys have been said today…” and the Blessed Mother anxiously checking every half hour to make sure that she’s still getting millions of likes?

No. In our brokenness, we might keep looking at our apps to be reassured that our friends still care, but the Blessed Mother does not suffer from insecurity. Our Lady asks us to call upon her prayers and make acts of reparation not for her sake, but for ours. She wants us not only to enter heaven, but to receive the very best experience when we get there. We store up treasure in heaven by making repeated acts of love for Jesus and Mary here on earth. Imagine the warm embrace when we meet face to face with those two people for whom we have said “I love you!” through our prayers every day of our lives!

Our Blessed Mother is also our perfect prayer partner, but although she is full of grace, she cannot share all those graces with us unless we ask. She appered to St Catherine Labouré in Paris to teach her that we must ask in order to receive in full, and she taught us the prayer, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” – which every night at the shrine they pray between the Glory Be and the Fatima Prayer!

We come gladly to place our prayers in Mary’s hands. The story of this shrine is rooted in such an answered prayer. One foggy day in 1182, a hunter realised his horse was about to charge over the edge of a cliff. He cried out to Our Lady, whose statue already rested near here – and his horse miraculously stopped right on the edge. This sanctuary was build as an act of thanksgiving.

We are called to purity – the purity of heart which turns away from pleasures of the flesh; and the purity of soul which cries out to Jesus and Mary wih daily acts of love.

If we cannot imitate the Blessed Virgin, we can at least imitate Blessed Chiara. But let’s aim high! After all, the psalms today has challenged us to try to imitate God! As children of his that he loves.

To make you feel my love

I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue

Image of Jesus with red and white rays flowing from his breast and the inscription “Jesus, I Trust in You”

And I’d go crawling down the avenue

No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do

To make you feel my love

Bob Dylan wrote these words, and Adele made them famous a few years ago. There are times we need to know that we are loved. And we may find we are blessed with people in our lives who want to communicate to us that yes, we are truly loved, even when we’re not in a mood to receive it.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing that my closest friends would do something to show they care. If only that person would send me a birthday card, or pick up the phone…! But perhaps I’m looking for the wrong thing. Instead of wishing for things I want, what happens if I look for signs they care, expressed their own way? Then, perhaps, I might start noticing that someone is actually sharing their deepest thoughts with me, or looks happy when I’m around. And it’s the same with God. Not only can we miss the signs that other people love us – we can miss the signs that God loves us, too.

We live in a world where stuff happens. In the last 48 hours, there have been stabbings and shooting in London; a British snowboarder suffocated when he fell head-first into a snowdrift in France; and this afternoon, a lorry drove into a crowd of people in Germany. The Bible itself says there will always be wars and famines and earthquakes in the world. If we expect God to stop these things happening as a sign of His love, we’re going to be disappointed.

The world at large hasn’t changed much in two thousand years. Bad stuff always had happened, and always will happen until Jesus comes again to bring the world, as we know it, to its end. What does change, is sometimes a whole heap of trouble comes into our own life all at once. Even Queen Elizabeth II famously had a bad year – an annus horribilis – in the year Diana, Princess of Wales, died, and Windsor Castle caught fire. And no-one, except the Pope, gets prayed for more often than Queen Elizabeth – even the British National Anthem is a prayer for her!

All of us can have a bad day, a bad month or even a bad year. Perhaps we have a run of accidents; or perhaps there are several deaths or terminal illness suddenly in our extended family. At times like that, the whole world seems to be against us. So remember, on days then the world is all wrong, this is the victory over the world – our faith!

Faith is a noun, which hides a verb! To have faith is more than to believe something in your head. You can look at a rickety rope bridge, and believe it will hold your weight. But you only put your trust in it when you move your feet! So what does it mean to put our trust in God? In fact, can God be trusted?

Instead of wishing that God would fix the world on my terms, perhaps I should look for what God’s actually done to make me know his love. “These [things] are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” wrote St John at the end of his Gospel.

Jesus appeared to St Thomas, as a sign to every future Christian who would doubt. Look! Touch! Believe! But blessed are those who will hear these words, and not see, but yet believe!

Jesus appeared to St Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 15th Century to show his Sacred Heart. Do you doubt that I love you? Here is my heart, burning with love for you!

Jesus appeared to St Faustina Kowalska in the 20th century, to show his Divine Mercy. “Paint an image of my with two rays streaming from my breast: the pale ray says I want to you become part of my body, through baptism. The red ray says I want my life to flow through you when you drink my blood. On the Sunday after Easter, honour this image, saying, ‘Jesus, I trust in you.'”

You won’t find promises of a trouble-free life in the Bible. You will find promises that God will walk with us through the darkness. When we say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” what we mean is: “Jesus, I will follow your commands even when times are hard; I know you walk with me through the darkness.” Thomas and the other apostles knew the darkness of facing the Death of Jesus, yet they were sent as messengers of hope to the whole world!

God shares with us the work of making the world a better place. In the first reading, we hear about a perfect community! Nobody was in want, because everyone gave from their wealth. But those people were in want, before that happened. And after the wealthy members had sold their property, what happened then? We have to keep working to make the world a better place! We also need to keep working to make our parish better, so each new tax year, we need to remember we have an opportunity to use Gift Aid – Toni will say something about that at the end of Mass.

Do you want to win a victory over the world? Put your trust in Jesus. Keep praying to him. Keep confessing your sins and receiving Holy Communion. Look for the signs that he loves you. They won’t always be the signs that you wish for, but they are there.

Bob Dylan, born Jewish, became a born-again Christian in 1978, and his faith inspired many of his songs. I don’t think he’d mind too much if I gave his lyrics a little tweak to speak about Jesus:

He went hungry; he was whipped for you;

And went carrying his cross, for sure,

No, there’s nothing that he wouldn’t do

To make you know his love.

The Power of Water

Homily at St Philip Evans, on the Easter Vigil 2018A glass, half full of water, and a large jug, brimful of water, stand on a white cloth behind which is a red cloth embroidered with the white dove of the Holy Spirit descending.

Tonight, consider the power of water!

Water in the Bible is found in stories of new beginnings, and of escape from sin and oppression into freedom and light. Jesus promised to those seeking hope that he would give them “living water” and told the woman at the well in Samaria that with the water he would give, she would never be thirsty again. To the Jewish scholar Nicodemus, Jesus said that anyone wanting to be enter God’s kingdom must be “born again” of water and the Holy Spirit. There was that famous scene when John was baptising in the river Jordan and a voice came to heaven, “This is my beloved son! With him I am well pleased!” Just as John was welling up with pride, Jesus put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Sorry, coz, I think he means me!”

No, I made that last bit up of course. John the Baptist knew very well who Jesus was: the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us. It’s important that we know who Jesus is and don’t get God’s message mixed up with mere stories. Earlier this year, a film called The Shape of Water did well at the Oscars. It was a fiction about a fish-god who lives in water and had the power to heal. We have a true story to celebrate tonight about The Power of Water: A man-God who offers us living water, and the power to transform our lives!

What happens when a child is born? I’m no midwife, but I know that the process begins with the “breaking of the waters” – the infant cocooned safely in the womb must pass out into the air around us. Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand that something similar happens spiritually when we are born into God’s kingdom. First we have to die to our old, and cofortable, life. The wicked people of Noah’s day, and the Egyptians enslaving the Israelites, were drowned in water. Natalie, Helen, and Alex, you are fortunate that we do not have a full-sized font, or I would re-enact the ancient form of baptism, holding your head under water for so long that you too would nearly be drowned! When you came up, gasping for air, you would certainly know you’d been given a “new life”! By “passing through” water, you will be born again, which in Latin is re-genere; that’s why one of the prayers I will use shortly speaks of the waters of “re-generation”.

Did you notice that tonight’s Gospel ends in a strange way? We do not meet the Risen Jesus. Rather, an angel tells the women to send the apostles to Galilee, and they would find him there. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, we find out what happens when the Apostles reach Galilee: Jesus gives them instructions to them, saying: Make disciples, going to all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to follow all I taught you. A disciple is someone who has committed to follow Jesus as an apprentice follows a Master. Later this year, the whole parish will be invited to “go to Galilee, and meet Jesus there”, when we launch our Galilee Groups. Natalie, Helen & Alex, these words will be fulfilled in you tonight as you are baptised, but just as a wedding is only the first day of a marriage, so a baptism is only the first day of your new life as a disciple of Christ, pledged to learn what He is teaching and to do what He is asking.

But it’s not enough to be born: the child must also draw its first breath, for which the technical name is inspiration – the Latin word “spiritus” literally means breath! And what does a baby do once it’s born? It learns quickly, becoming a master of language in just a few years. What does this mean for baptism? Yes, it’s a rebirth, but, it’s not enough to have your old life washed away by God: a baby which is born but doesn’t breathe isn’t going to last for long. This is why all three of you, together, with Emma and Daniel, will also be confirmed – I will pray that the living Breath of God, which we call the Holy Spirit, comes to live within you. Remember that living water – running water – will always have air dissolved within it!

There are two other words I would like you to think of tonight – and not only you who are being confirmed, but all of you in the congregation as you renew the promises made on your day of baptism: Aspiration, and Perspiration. Aspiration, because God’s Holy Spirit will challenge each of us onwards and upwards, until we become the very best versions of ourselves, fulfilling the dreams which God has for us. Perspiration, because God calls us to be workers for His Kingdom, empowered by His Spirit but lending our own labour. As a community we must constantly return to God, as Ezekiel called Israel to be renewed and given a clean heart.

So consider the power of water. On its own, it can bring life or destruction. With God’s blessing, it’s miraculous, and allows souls to be reborn to the life of heaven. Tonight, I will pour the waters of baptism on three souls. But from tomorrow, each one of you, whether baptised for twenty hours or eighty years, must begin anew the Easter work of pouring out living water in the service of others – for if we are not invigorated by God’s Spirit, holy water on its own will do little to transform our lives.

As an ordained priest, it is my privilege to stand-in for Jesus and pray at the altar, “Through Him, and with Him, and in Him.” But for each one of us, baptised as Temples of the Holy Spirit, we should make our own kind of priestly prayer. Recognise these three gifts which we have been given: Inspiration. Aspiration. Perspiration. “With Him, and from Him, and by Him – empowered by the Holy Spirit – as a member of the Body of Christ – my life will give you glory , Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen!”

Men of God

Homily for the Couples for Christ (South Region) men’s retreat at Hebron Hall, 11 November 2017

Gentlemen, today I would like to introduce you to a beautiful woman! She is called: WISDOM!

St Paul speaks about a gift of knowledge and a gift of wisdom. Knowledge is having an understanding of true things. Wisdom is about knowing the best way to do things. If you let this lady into your life, she will make a true man of you!

The wise bridesmaids Jesus spoke about are a sign of us as Christians, brides of Jesus. And gentlemen, although this may feel a bit awkward, each one of us is a bride of Christ. These ladies are our role models, always on the lookout for signs of Jesus. As Christians, you must be men of prayer, always ask Christ to guide and lead you in the decisions you make. Study his Holy Word – for there is no point praying for an answer, and ignoring the answers Jesus already gives in the Bible!

But because the Bible uses the image of Christ as a bridegroom, Jesus also teaches you, gentlemen, what it is to be a perfect husband. Jesus lays down his life for the bride he loves. You who are married, each one of you is called to lay down your life for your wife. This may mean a few big sacrifices – but it usually means lots of little ones.

What happens when you come home from work, and your wife wants to talk? Do you half-listen while reading your smartphone and mutter “yes dear” without really hearing the words? A man like Jesus, a truly wise man, will choose to put down his smartphone and give his wife half an hour of undivided attention when you are both home after a busy day. Each one of you, gentleman, has been blessed with a superpower by God. It is the power to choose to stop what you are doing and show your wife, by words and actions, “Your needs are more important than mine right now.”

If you find yourself in an argument, always ask yourself whether you are being driven by the need to win, or the real issue you are arguing about. If your wife’s solution is reasonable, don’t be afraid to say “OK”. Remember a wise saying: “The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race.”

One subject it is easy to get caught in arguments about, is money. You come from one family. Your wife comes from another family. Now you have started your own family, but the other two families need your support, remittances of money sent home. How much is a fair share for your wife’s family? How much is a fair share for your parents and their extended family? The Bible does ask you to honour your parents, but it also says that when a couple marry, they start their own household. Your first obligation is the needs of your wife and children. Beware of getting into debt because you are giving too much away. Don’t borrow unless you can see how you can repay it. But if anyone is in debt, struggling to repay, and you don’t know where to turn, I recommend this UK charity which will advise you: Turn2Us.

Once your own family needs are secure, whatever you then send to relatives and cousins is a gift. Does a “fair share” look like an equal slice for each living grandparent? For each living cousin – if one side has more cousins than the other? Is it fairer to give more to a relative who is sick? Beware – there can be more than one “fair” way to do things! Even Jesus refused to take part in an argument about dividing up two brothers’ inheritance! Why not first agree how much of your monthly income you can “give away” in total – to family, to your parish, to ANCOP and any other charities you want to support. Make a list of all the people and causes you want to help. Then let you and your wife each take a copy of the list and separately divide up your give-away pot in the way you think is fair. When you show each other the list, take the two decisions and take their average. There’s no easy way to make a better agreement – because we value different causes differently. Remember, the only fair amount to give away is zero. Anything beyond zero is not fair; it is generous, because it is an undeserved gift.

Gentlemen, in today’s world of technology, we face another grave danger. It is called pornography. It is a lie. It is a dangerous lie, because it makes us wish our women could reach impossible heights. It is a serious sin, because every time we demand it on our phones or shops, we are making a request for someone else to sin so we can have pleasure. There is no place for porn in the life of a Man of God, except the place of the confessional where you can seek spiritual healing. If this is something you struggle with, I recommend to you a website called ClicktoKick.

The Bible warns us of temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil, temptations which come in the form of money, sex and power. Jesus battled Satan in the wilderness; and you, gentlemen, are called to battle Satan in your daily lives. Your aim is to be a real man, as Jesus was a real man, wielding weapons of humility, graciousness and wisdom.

Today I have tried to offer you the company of Lady Wisdom, who guides you in doing what is right in everyday life. The Second Reading speaks of a day of judgment, when you will meet Christ. He will judge you on how well you have imitated him and embraced this gift of wisdom. Each day you must refill your lamp, asking God for strength to do the right thing, to die to yourself and serve your bride. Only in this way can each one of you become a true man of God, head of a Couple for Christ. Blessings upon you.



Home Mission Sunday

Homily at St Philip Evans for the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year BHome Mission Sunday.p15hms

Today is Home Mission Sunday, and we’ve received a letter sent from all the Bishops of England and Wales together. You can read the full text in the parish newsletter, but I’m going to pass on our bishops’ message in my own words.

Each one of us who is Catholic shares in the duty of making Our Lord Jesus known to the people around us, inviting them to hear His Good News and join our church. We call this ‘evangelisation’, and when done in our local community, that makes it our ‘home mission’. We’re called to deepen our own faith, so that we can share it with others, sensitively and confidently. 

Pope Francis shows us that the true heart of faith is hugely attractive. He shows us how to let our faith be seen. He does this by making clear the great mercy of God, the mercy that he has received and that he shows to all. The mercy of God is God’s love in action, reaching out to every person, to each one of us in our weakness. Mercy is God’s tender embrace in lifting us up and inviting us to start again.

In the Psalm of our Mass today, we proclaimed God’s mercy with the words: “The Lord upholds my life.” Mercy appears all the more clearly when, recognising our own sinfulness, we rely totally and joyfully on the goodness of God. When Pope Francis was asked to describe himself he said, simply, “I am a sinner.” As we understand the depth of God’s never-failing mercy towards us, then we are freed to offer the same mercy to those around us. In doing so we show forth the best of our faith.

How can we proclaim God’s mercy to the people around us? We have a wonderful opportunity in the coming Jubilee Year of Mercy, established by Pope Francis, beginning this December. He asks us to “go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!” Together let us Proclaim God’s Mercy. The readings we have heard today speak of the tests and trials of everyday life, the weariness we can feel, the conflicts we face, whether within our own hearts or from those around us. St James invites us to respond to every situation as peacemakers. That’s easier said than done! But then he tells us that our way forward is through prayer, asking the Lord for all that we need to get through the day, and to let his love be seen.

The Gospel Reading from St Mark puts it very simply. When we live our lives with trust in God as a child trusts his parents, then we will be free of so many burdens. And then our faith will be transparent, evident to others, and attractive. Then we will be proclaiming the Gospel for others to see and hear. The key, then, to showing our faith in the way we live, is to be ready to live constantly in the presence of God, knowing that God never takes his eyes off us. God gazes upon us not to catch us out, but because he loves us so much. Are we aware of that loving gaze which is upon us, and of the mercy and encouragement that flows our way? If so, we will be well able to look on others in the same way.

This trust in God and love for others is our starting point for evangelisation. From this beginning, there are many things we need to do. We must speak openly about our faith. We must show our love in concrete actions towards those most in need. We must have a loving care for those who have been hurt by life – and a special care for anyone who has been hurt within the Church, for these wounds make it particularly difficult for a person to return to the sacraments.

In many different ways – through friendship, through prayer, through conversation – we seek to reach other human beings, so that they sense in us God’s presence and loving invitation to them. Our efforts need not be complicated or heroic. As Our Blessed Lady reminds us, through our humble efforts the Lord can do great things!

Finally, our bishops want to thank each and every one of us for the witness that we already give. Our presence at Mass today is a good example. By coming to Mass we not only give due worship to God but also publicly proclaim our faith to everyone who knows of our commitment and routine. Our bishops thank us for our daily efforts in family living, the patterns of family life that we work hard to sustain. And family life is important, because for each child, the family is the first and best school of faith, of prayer and of virtuous living.

What does this mean for us here in St Philip Evans? This weekend we are asked to make a financial contribution to the Bishops’ Home Mission Fund, so there will be a retiring collection. But more practically, what can we do? It seems to me, as your parish priest, that not many of us feel confident enough to pass on the Good News of Jesus to other people. So our focus for the next three years in this parish will be on deepening and strengthening our own faith. This coming Monday, our monthly Call to Question group begins a new course, The Giftlooking at how the Holy Spirit helps us to do this. There are still places available at next month’s diocesan Proclaim’15 conference, and I will be happy to pay the costs for any parishioner who wishes to attend. In the coming months, we will begin to put in place other activities where adults and whole families can go to learn more about the message of Jesus received by our Church. This time next year we will have a Parish Mission. And most pressing at the moment, we have not yet got Children’s Liturgy up and running.

It’s vital that we provide the best possible experience of church for our children at every Sunday Mass. Our first group of volunteers are currently being DBS-checked, but nothing can be launched until they are fully checked and trained. Already, some volunteers have dropped out. We need some of you to replace them, so we can build up a healthy team where no one person is left having to share too much of the load. If we don’t pass on our faith to our children, our church will die. And only we who come to weekend Mass here are in a position to work with our children. So this responsibility is on us – and my share of the responsibility is making sure that the training we need is available. If you don’t feel ready, today, to share your faith with our children – what are you going to do about it?

Resources from the National Proclaim’15 Event in Birmingham are available online.