19th MARCH 2023
4th Sunday in Lent
Year A for Sundays – Cycle 1 for Weekdays
The view on Pope Francis 10 years on (The Guardian 13 March 2023)
Ten years ago, when Pope Francis addressed St Peter’s Square for the first time, he observed that the conclave that elected him went ’almost to the ends of the earth’ to find a new pontiff. It was a self-deprecating but telling joke – one that signalled that the Argentinian cardinal planned a very different kind of papacy from anything that had come before. Opting to live modestly in a church guest house on the edge of Vatican City – rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace – Francis has positioned himself as a kind of outsider pope, a champion of the marginal, peripheral and excluded.
A decade on, that approach has made him one of the most necessary moral voices of the age. On the key and related issues of troubled times – the chronic refugee crisis, the climate emergency and global economic injustice – the first non-European pope of modern times has provided a powerful defence of universal values.
On migration the pope has been a prophetic voice, speaking more clearly and trenchantly than many progressive governments. In a 2016 visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, Francis told local Catholics: ‘Europe is the homeland of human rights and whoever sets foot on European soil ought to sense this.’ amid multiple signs of a hardening Fortress Europe mentality, with Britain in the vanguard, that message is still more vital today.
In its critique of unrestrained economic appetites in the west, the 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, drew vital connections between the fate of the world’s poor and the fate of regions at the sharp end of the climate emergency. Here again, Francis has focused on the need for solidarity with regions and peoples who lie beyond the world’s centres of power and affluence. Within the church itself, Francis has also taken on entrenched bastions of traditional authority, delivering memorable and regular dressing-downs to the Roman curia about humility. The ongoing synod on synodality – a consultation process with the world’s Catholics on an unprecedented scale – is intended to further undermine the notion of the church as a monarchical type institution.
Meanwhile, on issues ranging from same-sex relationships to the status of divorcees and the remarried within the church, the pope has sought to emphasise pastoral engagement and empathy over doctrinal rigidity, and mercy over judgment. Most famously, when questioned by journalists on the subject of gay relationships, Francis responded: “Who am I to judge?”
After decades of entrenched and defensive conservative orthodoxy under Joh Paul II and Benedict XVI, this has been bold stuff, as testified by the furious response from conservative bishops, particularly in the United States.
Early in Pope Francis’s papacy, the American gossip site Gawker saluted him as ‘our cool new pope’. But the 86-year-old Francis should not be viewed as some kind of anomalous apostle of the secular liberal enlightenment. Nor has his record been free of mistakes and missteps. He has admitted to serious errors in dealing with the sex abuse crisis that has shamed the Catholic church across the world. Many remain acutely frustrated with the lack of progress on female empowerment in the church. But at a time when globalisation and its discontents are generating a new insularity in the politics of the world’s richer nations, Pope Francis’s calls for radical inclusion and solidarity are providing a vital counterpoint.
Illegal Migration Bill
The Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Paul McAleenan, has commented on the government’s Illegal Migration Bill:
“Everyone who makes a dangerous journey across the Channel to build a better life here has a name, a face and a story.
People are driven from their homes by poverty, conflict, persecution, natural disasters or other factors that prevent their flourishing. Many have links to the UK or family members already living here. Yet, far too often, there are no safe routes open to them.
While we all wish to end dangerous Channel crossings, this new legislation treats migrants and refugees as a problem to be solved rather than brothers and sisters towards whom we have responsibilities. Establishing more safe routes, and genuinely understanding people’s individual circumstances are essential to meeting these. As Christians we call for the human person, made in the image and likeness of God, to be put at the heart of public policy.” (Bishops Conference of England and Wales)
‘Love the Stranger’ is a new publication by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ Department for International Affairs that articulates our Christian duty to look beyond such labels and see the person who has left their homeland in search of a better life. You can download the document here: LOVE THE STRANGER – CLICK HERE
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference, welcomed the publication:
“Love the Stranger draws together more than one hundred years of Catholic teaching to guide our response to migration in England and Wales today. While it does not propose detailed solutions to complex problems, it clearly calls for procedures which permit safe and controlled access and a fair hearing to those seeking asylum. Present arrangements in this country are dramatically lacking in both of these requirements.”
TO DOWNLOAD OR READ THIS NEWSLETTER IN FULL – CLICK HERE
Monsignor John Devine OBE MA VF
Saint Mary of the Isle & St Joseph Hill Street Douglas Isle of Man IM1 1EG
Lent is the “favourable time” to return to what is essential, to divest ourselves of all that weighs us down, to be reconciled with God and to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit hidden beneath the ashes of our frail humanity.’
These bleak and freezing seasons may mean grace
When they are memory. In time to come
When we speak truth, then they will have their place,
Telling the story of our journey home,
Through dark December and stark January
With all its disappointments, through the murk
And dreariness of frozen February,
When even breathing seemed unwelcome work.
Because through all of these we held together,
Because we shunned the impulse to let go,
Because we hunkered down through our dark weather,
And trusted to the soil beneath the snow,
Slowly, slowly, turning a cold key
Spring will unlock our hearts and set us free. (Malcolm Guite)
Prayer for Turkey and Syria
God of time and space, we cry to you for your children – our neighbours – in southern Turkey and northern Syria, following the earthquake that has devastated hundreds of lives. Only they and you know what it is like to experience such trauma in the middle of the night.
We give thanks for the aid that is already being given and for the promises of help that have been made by many nations.
Comfort, we pray, those who are trapped in collapsed buildings;
those who have lost loved ones;
those who wait for news and those digging through rubble to save others.
Grant the gift of hope so that those caught between life and death know that you are with them and that others are ready to support them as they seek a future that overshadows the experiences of today.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus, who endured so much for love of them. Amen
Modern Day Beatitudes
You’re blessed when you hit rock bottom. Because then you can rely on God
You’re blessed when you mourn.
That means you feel compassion and empathy for others.
You begin to understand that we are all one.
You’re blessed when you are humble and authentic.
That is worth way more than fleeting power and material possessions.
You’re blessed when you hunger and thirst after spiritual things instead of worldly things.
You will feel full instead of empty.
You’re blessed when you express kindness.
You will receive kindness in return.
You’re blessed when you allow God’s presence and goodness to fill your mind, heart and soul.
Then you will see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed if you live in peace and create peace.
Then you will understand what it means to be a child of God.
You are fulfilling God’s dream for world peace.
You’re blessed when people make fun of you or ridicule you for my sake.
That means you struck a nerve.
Many of my followers have experienced this.
You are in good company.
You’re blessed if you are persecuted because of your relationship with God.
God knows and sees everything.
God will reward you for your faithfulness.
The Sending: A Franciscan Benediction Attributed to the earliest followers of St Francis
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed
for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in the world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done
to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
‘MY LORD GOD, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I AM GOING’
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (Thomas Merton)
CHRIST IS PRESENT
Into this world, this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ has come uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it,
his place is with those others who do not belong,
who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated.
With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in this world.
He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.
Pope Francis’ message to Young People on Youth Sunday:
‘I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.’
A Poem of Remembrance
So what is heaven? In each year’s eleventh month we ask: So what is heaven?
(And on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour reply: An end to war at least!)
We ask this not abstractly but from the place of loss.
Unlike the case of Christ, we don’t proclaim the death of those we’ve loved
To be the source of life; yet we profess their resurrection, too.
The Afterlife is, as seen from here, an act of trust,
A surrendering to Love and to Eternity of those who’ve gone before.
So what is heaven? Better say what it is not:
Not an everlasting frigid calm, all white robes, harps and halos;
Nor a reward for lives spent ‘being nice’ and minding ‘p’s and ‘q’s.
Ask Jesus what it’s like, and he replies with tales of harvests, parties, feasts:
The gathering up of all that’s been, shorn now of hurt,
The remembering of the unloved and forgotten,
The pardoning of what we’d not forgiven,
The welcoming of things that did not fit.
So what is heaven? This:
An arc of covenant that spans all vales of tears,
The Beyond that touches our today with peace,
The assurance that what we’ve lost is found,
Now home and safe, at one with God.
Canon Rob Esdaile (Parish Priest at St Dunstan’s and St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic parishes in Woking, Surrey)
ARCHDIOCESE OF LIVERPOOL
SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
Donate by text to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London.
All donations will support those suffering in Ukraine.
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70085 to donate £2
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70450 to donate £3
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70460 to donate £5
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70470 to donate £10
Season of Creation
HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS issued a MESSAGE FOR THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION
1st September 2022. To read it CLICK HERE
“Listen to the voice of creation” is the theme and invitation of this year’s Season of Creation. The ecumenical phase began on 1 September with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and concludes on 4 October with the feast of Saint Francis. It is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home.
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
ARCHDIOCESE OF LIVERPOOL – SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
As an act of solidarity, Archbishop Malcolm is wearing a pectoral cross given to him by Bishop Hryhoriy (Gregory) Komar, the auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Sambir-Drohobych in the Lviv region of western Ukraine. The diocese has 220 parishes, with 285 priests serving 400,000 members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Ordained a priest 20 years ago in Lviv and a graduate of the Jesuit-run Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Bishop Komar was consecrated in 2014 at the young age of 38 by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv, the head of the worldwide Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Another PRAYER FOR UKRAINE has been sent to us by Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London – To read and/or download the prayer CLICK HERE
Archbishop Malcolm has approved the launch of an Archdiocesan urgent appeal in support of Ukraine. A text message function has been set up allowing people to donate to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London. The Ukrainian Archbishop in the UK maintains direct contact with the people of Ukraine. All donations will be used to support those suffering in Ukraine. The text numbers are:
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70085 to donate £2
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70450 to donate £3
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70460 to donate £5
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70470 to donate £10
TO DOWNLOAD OR READ A SEPARATE DOCUMENT WITH TEXT NUMBERS CLICK HERE
If you have difficulty with your mobile, cheques payable to The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool can be sent directly to: Liverpool Archdiocesan Office, Croxteth Drive, Liverpool L17 1AA.
In addition to financial support, collections of essential items are being organised across the Archdiocese.
Updated information will be available as the situation develops on the Archdiocesan website: CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
A message from Fr Taras Khomych, a Ukrainian priest ministering within our Archdiocese:
‘If you know people who are not sure how best to express their support for Ukraine, the Ukrainian Institute in London has posted a list of suggested actions. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS
An appeal from Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav
to the Sons and Daughters of the Ukrainian People in Ukraine and Abroad, and to all People of Good Will:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The recognition by the president of the Russian Federation of the “independence and sovereignty” of the self-proclaimed LNR and DNR creates serious challenges and threats for the entire international community and for international law, on the basis of which today people and their nations exist and cooperate. Irreparable damage has been done to the very logic of international relations, which are called to safeguard peace and the just order of societies, the supremacy of law, the accountability of state powers, the defence of the human being, human life and natural rights. Today all of humanity has been placed in danger—that the powerful have a right to impose themselves on whomever they wish, with no regard for the rule of law.
In its decision the government of the Russian Federation unilaterally withdrew from a lengthy peace process, tasked with ensuring the restoration of dignified conditions for life on the territories controlled by Russia in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, for those impacted by Russian military aggression. The war, initiated against our people in 2014, has inflicted deep wounds on many of our fellow citizens: thousands killed, wounded, left in solitude. Yesterday’s step taken by the president of the Russian Federation destroyed foundational principles for a long-term process of restoring peace in Ukraine, created the path for a new wave of military aggression against our state, opened the doors for a full-scale military operation against the Ukrainian people.
We consider the defence of our native land, our historical memory and our hope, our God-given right to exist to be the personal responsibility and sacred duty of the citizens of Ukraine. The defence of our Fatherland is our natural right and civic duty. We are strong when we are together. Now has come the time to unite our efforts in order to defend the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state. The duty and responsibility of all of humanity—to actively work to avert war and protect a just peace.
We are convinced that the world cannot develop and find answers for the challenges of today by resorting to might and violence, by showing disdain for shared human values and the truth of the Gospel. I call upon all people of good will to not ignore the suffering of the Ukrainian people, brought on by Russian military aggression. We are a people who love peace. And precisely for that reason we are ready to defend it and fight for it.
Today we call out in prayer to the Almighty Creator, with a special appeal for wisdom for those entrusted with making important decisions for society, in whose hands lies the fate of humanity. We ask the Heavenly Father for assistance in restoring a just peace on Ukrainian land. We pray especially for those who defend Ukraine, who in these days are for us an example of loving sacrifice and dedicated service to their people. May the merciful Lord protect them from every danger and crown their efforts with the victory of truth and good.
We call for the gracious blessing of a loving God and Creator upon Ukraine and its people!
The blessing of the Lord be upon you.
+Sviatoslav, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Kyiv, Ukraine
• We will be including the Novena prayer to Mary Untier of Knots at each Mass for the people of Ukraine.
TO DOWNLOAD OR READ SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR UKRAINE CLICK HERE
Prayer For Racial Justice
Mighty, and everlasting God. As your people come into your presence,
We are thankful for your graciousness, your mercy, and your love.
We continue to remember all those adversely affected by the COVID pandemic;
We pray that your Holy Spirit will be present with them,
To comfort and to heal; to sustain and be reconciled, one with another.
We remember all those who are hurting, disadvantaged and impacted by racial prejudice.
We also remember all those who have suffered at the hands of injustice.
May your Holy Spirit be present with them, to comfort and to heal;
To bring justice and reconciliation, one with another.
Faithful God, we commit this service into your hands.
We pray for every participant and every listener, that you will empower them with your strength;
That they might be courageous to say and do what is right and just,
And that your good and glorious, magnificent, and righteous name might be praised,
We pray in the name of your selfless Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
7 Oct 1931 – 26 Dec 2021
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has died at the age of 90, was a “prophetic voice in the church and the world.”
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has said: “The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a huge loss to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and to the whole of the Anglican Communion.”
Archbishop Tutu was a driving force behind the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984.
Archbishop Josiah said Desmond Tutu had been “a prophetic voice in the church and in the world”.
“When he spoke, people listened. He was a lively and engaging contributor to the Anglican Communion and its constituent bodies, and used his gifts to greatly enrich the Communion. His commitment to justice and peace, and particularly to racial justice and reconciliation, was and continues to be an example to us all.
“He was a great Disciple of Christ: as a priest and bishop he was a committed pastor and preacher. He will continue to inspire generations to come. We commend him into the arms of his Creator, and Saviour, and join with the whole Communion in praying for his family at this time.”
The current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, said: “While we mourn his passing, as Christians and people of faith we must also celebrate the life of a deeply spiritual person whose alpha and omega – his starting point and his ending point – was his relationship with our Creator. He took God, God’s purpose and God’s creation deadly seriously. Prayer, the Scriptures and his ministry to the people God entrusted to his care were at the heart of his life.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a prophet and a priest, a man of words and action – one who embodied the hope and joy that were the foundations of his life. Even in our profound sorrow we give thanks for a life so well lived. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
In January this year, Pope Francis instituted a Church-wide celebration of a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.
This special day took place this Sunday 25 July,
close to the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
The chosen theme is “I am with you always”.
You can read and/or download Pope Francis’ message for the first ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly
BY CLICKING HERE
PRAYER FOR THE FIRST WORLD DAY FOR GRANDPARENTS AND THE ELDERLY
I thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your presence: even in times of loneliness,
You are my hope and my confidence; You have been my rock and my fortress since my youth!
I thank You for having given me a family and for having blessed me with a long life.
I thank You for moments of joy and difficulty,
for the dreams that have already come true in my life and for those that are still ahead of me.
I thank You for this time of renewed fruitfulness to which You call me.
Increase, O Lord, my faith, make me a channel of your peace,
teach me to embrace those who suffer more than me,
to never stop dreaming and to tell of your wonders to new generations.
Protect and guide Pope Francis and the Church,
that the light of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth.
Send Your Spirit, O Lord, to renew the world,
that the storm of the pandemic might be calmed,
the poor consoled and wars ended.
Sustain me in weakness and help me to live life to the full
in each moment that You give me, in the certainty that you are with me every day,
even until the end of the age.