Homily 5th Sunday Easter 2020

“Among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found.”

This ongoing pandemic has shaken the world in a manner we could never have expected. So much of what we have taken for granted we now either cannot do or have very limited access. The economy is in melt down with all it ramifications for people’s jobs and homes. We cannot even just pop out for a coffee or visits the homes of friends and family. The dangers of loneliness and increased mental health issues are real. 

The scientists, the new priests and tellers of truth, have been sending out all sorts of contradictory messages creating uncertainty and fear. If it is true, it may have been such fear and panic that led the bishop’s conference to petition the government to close churches as part of the imposed restrictions. 

Although there are indications that there will be some easing of restrictions it is going to be many months before all restrictions are lifted. When they are it will be a different world and a different Church that emerges. Will this time have been a time that see a spiritually stronger people of God, renewed in our passion for the sacraments and our mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ? Or will it be a smaller broken Church that will take months if not years to recover from?

St Peter, as I have said before addresses his epistle to a community also going through a time of great turbulence. He has consistently tried to point them, in the midst of great uncertainty, to focus on the one who is unchanging and eternal; to the one who has over come the world. He emphasises that in fact trials and tribulations are to be expected and are an inevitable part of the life of a disciple of Christ. It is part of the process of our dying and rising as we are being transformed in preparation for being citizens of the heavenly kingdom. 

There is a sense of irony that Peter, in this part of the epistle, uses the image of a stone and rock to refer to our Lord. The one who renamed Simon as Peter the rock upon which His Church would be built. Peter knows that he can only ever fulfil that vocation and the Church built if the rock is laid on the foundation of the living stone that is Christ the Lord himself. 

Peter almost certainly has in mind a Jewish tradition of the time that looked toward the renewal of Israel. This renewal would see the restoration of former glory, free from gentile rule and where once again the presence of God would visibly return to the temple. This restoration would come about once the right stone, person, messiah, had been found to lead such renewal. 

This story of the ‘Stone’ or ‘Rock’ looks back at the Exodus and the trial of the people at Meribah where Moses struck the stone from which living water flowed. Paul makes explicit that which Peter infers.  In 1 Corinthians 10:4 referring to the Exodus he says:  “all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

The community to whom Peter writes would, through the oral teachings of Christ, have been reminded of our Lord’s words recorded in Matthew 7:24-27

“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;  and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

Peter, quoting Isaiah 26:16, states that this stone has already been laid in Zion. It is the cornerstone; we either build our lives upon it or it will be the stone that we continually stumble and fall over. 

It is only if we are able to stand upon this living stone will we be able to emerge from this present crisis positively, revealing more clearly that we are a chosen race, royal priesthood, God’s own people and where our true joy will be found. 

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Catholic Church in England and Wales

a people who hope in christ – final

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The radiance of the risen Lord shines upon us. At a time when so many shadows are cast into our lives, and upon our world, the light of the resurrection shines forever to renew and restore our hope. In the words of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.’ (27 March 2020)

The impact of Covid-19, both nationally and internationally, has been immense. So much of what we take for granted has changed. Our health and physical interaction, our capacity to travel and gather, have all been affected. There is uncertainty in our future, especially with work and the country’s economy. As we know, very sadly, large numbers of people have died because of the coronavirus, and others have been or remain seriously ill. Keyworkers, not least in the National Health Service and care sectors, are serving selflessly to sustain the life of our nation. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who is suffering because of Covid-19, and to all those battling to overcome its effects. May those who have died rest in peace and those who are bereaved find comfort.

When the Prime Minister announced the lockdown, this included places of worship and therefore Catholic churches. These measures were put in place to stem the general transmission of the virus. It is right that the Catholic community fulfils its role in contributing to the preservation of life and the common good of society. This must continue until the restrictions applied by the Government are lifted.

None of us would want to be in the situation in which we find ourselves. While the live-streaming of the Mass and other devotions is playing an important part in maintaining the life of faith, there is no substitute for Catholics being able to physically attend and participate in the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments. Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting.’ We know that every bishop and every priest recognises the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts. We are deeply moved by the Eucharistic yearning expressed by so many members of the faithful. We thank you sincerely for your love for the Lord Jesus, present in the sacraments and supremely so in the Holy Sacrifice

of the Mass. The bishops and priests of every diocese are remembering you and your loved ones at Mass each day in our churches as we pray ‘in hope of health and well- being.’ We thank our priests for this faithfulness to their calling.

As the Government’s restrictions are relaxed step by step, we look forward to opening our churches and resuming our liturgical, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral life step by step. This will also be of service to those beyond the Catholic Church who depend on our charitable activity and outreach through which much goodness is shared by so many volunteers from our communities.

None of us knows, as yet, how or when the lockdown will end. There is likely to be a phased return to travelling and gathering. As a church, we are now planning for this time and our discussions with the statutory public health agencies and Government representatives are ongoing. Together with Catholics across England and Wales we desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare.

We want to acknowledge with gratitude the service of our fellow bishops and priests, our deacons and religious, our families and lay faithful, together with all our parish and school communities, for the wonderful ways the life of the faith is being nourished at this time, especially in the home. We also pay tribute to the Catholic organisations and networks that are working to support the vulnerable and needy.

On that first Easter day, the disciples were in lockdown and the doors were closed. In their isolation the Lord Jesus came among them and said ‘Peace be with you.’ May the peace of the risen Lord reign in our hearts and homes as we look forward to the day we can enter church again and gather around the altar to offer together the Sacrifice of Praise.

We unite in asking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and assure you of our prayers and blessing

Yours devotedly in Christ,

+ Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

+ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool

+ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham

+ George Stack, Archbishop of Cardiff

+ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

Sermon 3rd Sunday of Easter

The resurrection and its connection to morality.

In the epistle today, Peter continues to spell out the consequence of the resurrection. 

It is in the light of the profound hope of the resurrection, that he has been encouraging the faithful to build their lives. It is the means to understand their present experiences. 

Everything is in flux; the chaos of sin and death are all around them. They are being persecuted for not complying with the cultural world, within which they live; a world which they have rejected as corrupt and meaningless. 

They have also rejected Caesar as the ultimate authority and proclaimed the One who has power over death itself, by raising Jesus from the dead. This God, the father of the Lord Jesus, is the one who has the ultimate authority and judgement over the living and the dead. The Lord’s judgement is not confined, as Caesar’s is, to this realm but is played out on the canvass of eternity. 

The call to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ is an invitation to leave behind the realm that has been corrupted by the fall, in which we are subject to sin and death reigning in our bodies. We are called then to die to the corrupt fallen world and rise to new life in the new creation. In this new creation we are born in the Spirit into the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is eternal. 

Our place in this new kingdom has be ransomed by the ‘precious blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish’ and has been prepared before the foundation of the world. The prophets looked forward to these events and the angels longed to see them. This is Our Lord’s triumph over death by entering death and rising to new life. Death can claim no place in this new creation or power over those born to new life in it. 

If death cannot claim any dominion in the heavenly kingdom then neither can anything that belongs to the fallen world. The citizens of heaven are to live the morality of life, as revealed by God, and not to conform to the culture of death. In the earlier part of this epistle (1 Pe 1:14-16) Peter states: ‘As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”’

The morality of the resurrection then is a call to life in God; the life God has longed for us to have and know. As we have said, baptism is the entry into this new life. However, we experience as the Church militant this conversion as an ongoing process; the ‘already but not yet’ experience as citizens of this eternal kingdom. 

The stage on which we play out this journey of transformation means a continuous dying and rising with Christ. Our discipleship thus seeks to shake off the old Adam that ties us to the fallen world as we long for the fullness of the heavenly kingdom. 

How often, without always knowing it, have we assumed the values of the culture within which we live our lives? How often once we have heard the teaching of the Church, the morality of life in Christ, have we been shocked and struggled to accept it? How often have we even rejected it, as it confronts received assumptions? The wisdom of the world is so often presented to us as self evident, and as compassionate wisdom.

The Gospel confronts many of these received assumptions. Thus begins the struggle of acceptance and conversion of the manner in which we live our lives as citizens of heaven.

Paul again puts this well in his letter to the Philippians:

‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’

Therefore we cannot see the resurrection as the happy ending, in which we can all breathe a sigh of relief, sit back, relax and say thank goodness that’s all over. The resurrection demands us to embrace, with utter desire, the path of transformation into the likeness of Christ. It is the path of holiness and life in God which makes us, in our transformed lives, witnesses to the good news of Christ’s triumphant resurrection.  

Divine Mercy Sunday – Homily

Divine Mercy Sunday

This Sunday the Church, in her wisdom, has shifted the focus of our readings at mass. Obviously the Gospels reflect the resurrection accounts. However that which, through the rest of the year, are readings from the Old Testament, give way through the 50 days of Easter to the account of the early church in the Acts of the Apostle. Our second readings also move from the letters of Paul to those of both Peter and John.

Acts of the Apostles is not surprising as we follow the emergence of the Church with its trials, tribulations and triumphs, post the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. 

Peter and John are central players during Holy Week and the resurrection accounts of the Lord. In their epistles we get an insight to their reflections of what they heard, saw and gave their lives too. 

Today we hear from Peter’s opening words of his first Epistle. Peter wastes no time in getting straight to the point. The resurrection of Our Lord has given us a new birth and entry into a new creation that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. This new creation is eternal as opposed to the corrupted, temporal world that will come to an end. 

This is not to despise the temporal world, which is given by God. However, one mark of the Fall is the great temptation to see worldly things as a means and end in themselves,ignoring the hand from which they came. Those who invest their sense of meaning and hope in that which comes to an end will have their hopes die with it. 

How often have we seen humanity define the worth, meaning and value of themselves and others by their ancestry, social status, wealth, poverty, popularity and honour? How often have we lifted upon a pedestal or dehumanised because of these false values? Human history is littered with the terrible consequences of such tragic folly. 

The world and our lives are beautiful and a gift from God but not that which we should grasp hold off or invest our everlasting hope in. Faith, our trusting in the promises of God in Christ, made manifest in his resurrection, will be revealed in their fullness at the end of time, Peter assures us. 

In the opening 2 verses of his epistles, Peter reflects that those who have responded to the Gospel have a sense of being called, set apart, of being sanctified in the spirit and sprinkled with Christ’s blood. Peter is making clear that the death and resurrection of the Lord are inseparable. It is also this calling to  participate in Christ’s death and resurrection that redefines the sense of the value of the faithful which provides eternal meaning.

This is fundamentally important to the community his epistle addresses and as a consequence to the Church as a whole. This community were facing persecution, suffering and the knowledge that things of this world can be so easily lost or taken away. Peter writes to remind them of where their ultimate security lies in entering into the death and resurrection of Christ that leads to eternal life.

Isn’t it strange that our modern self confidence and sense of control and knowledge of all things has been shaken and humbled by a tiny virus? Our old certainties have given way to doubt, worry and a real sense of loss. Death which we so often seek to avoid, which we ignore or pretend isn’t there has, in this present crisis, demands to be acknowledge. 

We have been made more aware of the fragility of our lives and that anyone of us could die. The question of what we build our hope on, becomes more urgent and demanding. 

It difficult not to mention Paul who himself states; (1 Cor 15:19) ‘If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.’

Christ has however, been raised from the dead and the gospel in dramatic fashion leaves us in no doubt that this is not a hope based on delusions, fanciful or wishful thinking, but a concrete reality. That concrete reality, in sacramental terms, is made present to us, body, soul and divinity in the celebration of the mass.

It is resting more fully in this promise, and this foretaste of what is to be, that enabled Peter and those he wrote to to “rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.” This despite the suffering they were going through. 

It is the very fact that as St Augustine famously put, “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song,” that enables us even in this time of crisis to exalt with unutterable joy.

things has been shaken and humbled by a tiny virus? Our old certainties have given way to doubt, worry and a real sense of loss. Death which we so often seek to avoid, which we ignore or pretend isn’t there has, in this present crisis, demands to be acknowledge. 

We have been made more aware of the fragility of our lives and that anyone of us could die. The question of what we build our hope on, becomes more urgent and demanding. 

It difficult not to mention Paul who himself states; (1 Cor 15:19) ‘If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.’

Christ has however, been raised from the dead and the gospel in dramatic fashion leaves us in no doubt that this is not a hope based on delusions, fanciful or wishful thinking, but a concrete reality. That concrete reality, in sacramental terms, is made present to us, body, soul and divinity in the celebration of the mass.

It is resting more fully in this promise, and this foretaste of what is to be, that enabled Peter and those he wrote to to “rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.” This despite the suffering they were going through. 

It is the very fact that as St Augustine famously put, “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song,” that enables us even in this time of crisis to exalt with unutterable joy.

Blessings Fr Neil

Cardinal Nichols Media Programmes

Cardinal Nichols has recorded a special radio programme for the BBC on Easter Sunday. This will be broadcast at 0800 on all 39 BBC local radio stations.

Additionally, over the Triduum, the Cardinal will be giving the following interviews:

 

Good Friday

0745 BBC Radio Berkshire

0830 BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

1030 Sky News – Adam Boulton Easter Sunday

 

Easter Sunday

0710 BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme

0730 BBC Radio 2

0930 BBC Radio London

1300 BBC Radio 4 The World This Weekend

 

Additionally, the Daily Telegraph is publishing a reflection by the Cardinal on Good Friday. And the BBC will be covering Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi on Easter Sunday on its news bulletins.

The Holy Triduum

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Holy Triduum Services

Thursday: 7.30pm, Maundy Thursday Liturgy – Facebook Live – Christ the King

Friday: 3.00pm, Good Friday Liturgy – Facebook Live – Christ the King

Saturday:  8.30pm, Easter Vigil  – Facebook Live – St Joachim’s 

Sunday: 11.30 am, Easter Sunday Morning – Live Stream via YouTube – Our Lady of Ransom

The venues may change without notice depending of technology reliability.

Pray with Pope Francis

Statio orbis – Eucharistic Adoration with Pope Francis

 

In order to offer intercession and consolation during this time of exceptional discomfort, the Holy Father will preside over a time of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration in Saint Peter’s Square, without a congregation of the lay faithful, on Friday 27th March 2020 at 5.00pm, London time.

This Statio orbis will be broadcast on mondovision and streamed by Vatican News.

During this time of prayer Pope Francis will impart the Urbi et Orbi Blessing and will also concede a Plenary Indulgence to all those persons who participate in these prayers via the communications media.

 

Money Matters

We live in extraordinary times with being unable to access so much of what we have taken for granted and though would be always available to us.

Who would have though that we would see public masses suspended and churches closed? Normal life has ceased for the time being. Businesses and non-essential shops are closed. We cannot meet up with our friends for coffee and cake.

There are many businesses that are seeing their trade collapse to a point that many wonder if they will be in existence after this crisis is over. People are having to take mortgage and rental breaks for the next 3 months to try and survive financially.

Those who help feed the homeless and the good work of the Foodbank are also being effected quite dramatically. All of which should be a concern for us all.

More than one person has asked about the church’s finances. Inevitably the church will with other take a big hit on its finances and its ability to pay its way in the short term.

Those who normally do their giving through the plate collection obviously aren’t able to at the moment. The loss of this income equals to about £2,000 a month across CTK and St Jo’s. This may not be so dramatic if some are able to find another means of contributing to the churches.

Those who are able to get to the bank or have internet access to their accounts can set up a standing order and the bank details below will help. Other may like to send cheques to the office a 3 princes Road for either church. Cheques can be made out to either;

Christ the King, Catholic Church, Eastbourne

St Joachim’s Catholic Church, Hampden Park, Eastbourne

Bank details:

A&B Diocesan Trust, Eastbourne, Langney, Christ the King.                                                   Sort Code 40-05-20  Account No 91127012

A&B Diocesan Trust, Hampden Park, St Joachim’s.                                                                   Sort Code 40-05-20. Account No 51077058

I am aware that people should be cautious and this post is offered because people have been enquiring about the issue.

Prayers and blessings

Fr Neil

antique bills business cash