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NOTICE FOR POLISH PARISHIONERS
Fr Leniart will be available for Confessions in Polish on Good Friday from 11am to 1pm
22 March 2015. King Richard lll was a Catholic.
King Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets, was a Catholic. Killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, 1485; hastily buried in Grey Friars’ Convent in central Leicester; discovered there in 2013 under what is now a city car park; and this week to be buried in Leicester Cathedral with all the pomp and ceremony of the Anglican Church. Which raises the question: Why is he not being given a Catholic funeral? He knew nothing of the Church of England; it didn’t even exist in his time. He was no saint by a long chalk, and there are many unanswered questions about his life, but he was a Catholic – everybody was then. Despite all his possible misdemeanours, he was a loyal member of the Catholic Church, a loyal servant of the Pope of Rome, and generous with his endowments to the Church. As his Coronation was presumably in the context of the Catholic Mass, so should his burial be. Instead he will be brought into the Cathedral for the Anglican Rite of Compline. At least Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be there.
Leicester Cathedral, like all the ancient Cathedrals of our country, was built by Catholics for Catholic worship, before being appropriated by the Church of England after the Reformation. Leicester Cathedral, one of the more ancient Cathedrals of the land, dates right back to Saxon times. It became a cathedral only in 1927, being St Martin’s Catholic Parish Church in Richard’s time. At least he is being buried in a church which was Catholic once.
It is said of the Welsh Martyr St Richard Gwyn that when he was taken into Wrexham Parish Church, then recently taken over by the Reformers, and forced to listen to a sermon by the Anglican Vicar, he so rattled his chains that the congregation couldn’t hear a word the preacher was saying. In these ecumenical days when friendships have been forged between Christians of all denominations, I am sure King Richard will not be so unecumenical as to copy his namesake Richard Gwyn and rattle his bones noisily during this Vicar’s sermon!
The Anglicans are absolute experts in the conducting of beautiful ceremonies. No one can match them. The Funeral Rites will be performed with all pomp and ceremony and accompanied by the kind of music Catholics could only dream of. But whatever the service turns out to be, and I have searched in vain on the internet to find out, it will not be the Catholic Requiem Mass, to which, like you and me, Richard III has every right.
The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Anglican Bishop of Leicester said, as reported in the Telegraph, “I am delighted that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be in Leicester for our celebrations surrounding the reinterment of Richard III….The presence of the Cardinal marks the historical continuity between the Catholic Faith in this country and the Church of England.”
With the greatest possible respect to the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Anglican Bishop of Leicester, this statement is not backed up by the facts! He speaks of historical continuity. He is implying that the Catholic Church in these lands naturally and under the guidance of the peaceful Spirit of God transformed itself spontaneously into the Church of England!
But has the Bishop forgotten the political wrangling that led to the formation of the Church of England? Has he forgotten that the New Religion rejected the Pope on whom Christ built his Church and without whom the Church cannot exist as Christ intended it to? Has he forgotten that the Reformers changed the essential sacrificial meaning of the Mass and abolished several of the Sacraments instituted by Christ? Has he forgotten, or does he choose to ignore the ancient teaching of Apostolic Succession which predates the Reformation and stretches back to the very beginning of Christianity, teaching that in order for an ordination to be valid, a bishop, when he ordains another bishop, must have the same mind and intention as the Catholic Church?
Has he forgotten the greatest act of vandalism Europe has ever witnessed (outside of World War II) when the New Religion demolished all the monasteries of the land and seized their property?
Has he forgotten all the blood of the martyrs that was shed for the Ancient Faith? And has he forgotten those three hundred years, the so-called Penal Times when, from 1538 right up to 1829, Catholics were deprived of many of their rights and rightful properties and were severely discriminated against and ruinously fined for the simple reason that they were Catholics? Does he not recall those penal times when it was a capital offence to be a Catholic priest and those who were caught trying to minister the Sacraments to the adherents of the Old Faith were hung by the neck, cut down before they were dead, drawn through the streets behind a horse and finally butchered while they were still alive? – Is this what the Right Reverend Tim Stevens means by “the historical continuity of the Catholic Church in this country and the Church of England”? Does history not speak rather of rupture and persecution and imposed change?
It would be good if we could just ignore all this, as Bishop Tim seems to be doing, and pretend that it didn’t happen; but the desperately sad truth is that it did. History shows that at the Reformation, the Church of England broke free of the ancient Catholic Church. She took with her much that rightly belongs to the Catholic Church and, for this reason and to this extent, claims our reverence and respect, as does, of course, every single member of that Church. But the Reformation did in fact reject and modify many of the Ancient Faith’s key elements. As time passed other matters of Faith and Morals were distorted and diluted. Today the Church of England continues careering down the same road with accelerating pace and gay abandon while the distance between her and the Catholic Church steadily widens.
To claim that the Catholic Church has developed into the Anglican Church is utterly without foundation. The Catholic Church has remained what she always has been, while the Church of England has separated herself from the vast bulk of Christianity (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) and gone her own lonely way. It is desperately sad. True ecumenism is to speak the truth in love.
But notice this. There is a parallel between the way the Reformers treated the Mass and, sadly, the way many younger Catholics treat it today. Like the Reformers of old, many Catholics these days do not appreciate what a treasure they have in their possession. They drift away. They lose touch with the Church. The real meaning and relevance of the Mass becomes lost to them as it was to the Reformers. Its value becomes as buried to them as Richard III was to the people of Leicester when they parked their cars on top of him and made their way to Asda.
When the aged parents of such faithless Catholics die, the children are often quite content to have them sent on their way without Mass, as is about to happen to King Richard. Or they opt for a service at the Crematorium. I can think of parishioners for whom the Mass meant everything, some of them even daily Mass attendees, and their lapsed children sent them packing to the Crem. Here, all too often, poems replace Scriptures, joking eulogies stand proxy for sermons, and profane and blaring music, substituting for hymns, inappropriately accompany these deceased pious Catholics on their final journey. I have warned the older generation before and I warn them again, that no matter how much they love their children and their children love them, no matter how sure they are that their children will do for them what they want after death, they should take no chances and make it plain in their will that they want a full Requiem Mass according to the Rites of the Catholic Church. There are enough Catholics turning in their graves already without adding any more!
And on that cheery note, I will sign off.
God bless, Fr Antony
PRAYERS FOR HOLY WEEK
As we stand in spirit at the foot of his Cross, alongside Our Lady, St John and Mary Magdalene, we share their grief as we see what sin has done to the Holy One of God…(Pause for reflection) Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus.
But in the darkness of this moment, we know that there is victory here, the victory of God’s love, a love that nothing at all, no torment, no treachery, not even death by crucifixion, can ever diminish……(Pause) Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You… because by your holy Cross You have redeemed the world
We contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, torn open by sin, and pouring forth the baptismal waters of new life and the blood of the Eucharist …(Pause) Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus
By the power of that love in your Sacred Heart, Lord Jesus, we pray for peace, peace in our hearts and peace in our world. (Pause) Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus
The many conflicts we hear about today indicate an increasing clash between the civilizations, cultures and religions of the world. May the Cross, which broke down the barriers between man and God, be powerful also in bringing mankind together in harmony and peace. (Pause) Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You… because by your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
Jesus, our Saviour, You have entered fully into the cruellest of our human situations. O tortured One, stand beside all those being tortured in our world today; O suffering Servant of God, help those unjustly deprived of their liberty, O You who were falsely accused, be with all suffering miscarriages of justice, O dying One, be with those who are in their last agony, be with the bereaved and the broken-hearted. And as the Cross is raised up in their lives and ours, so may we recognise it as the means of glory and the promise of everlasting life…(Pause). Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You… because by your holy Cross You have redeemed the world…
May Mary, whose deepest sorrow has since been turned into highest joy, pray for us. Hail Mary…
29 March 2015.
Holy Week. Catechist Training
Today, Palm Sunday, we enter upon the most important week of the year. In your heart of heart you may not think so; but it most certainly is. It is the week when we celebrate what we believe It is the week we celebrate our Faith, when we proclaim by our worship that we know for certain that Christ died for us, rose from the dead for us, and gave us (to keep these momentous events ever alive) his sacred Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
You see the rise of militant Islam, you learn of your fellow Christians being exiled and even martyred for their Faith, you live in a country which is enormously prosperous when it comes to material wealth and poverty stricken when it comes to spiritual values — well, then, show God, show your neighbour, show yourself that you do believe in God’s love, that you do believe in the salvation brought by Jesus Christ and that you live by the power of the indwelling Spirit given you at Baptism. Make it plain to everyone, to Almighty God above all, that you really believe in the possibility of a better world here and hereafter and that you know the way to it. Put your Faith into action. Make every effort to celebrate it, rejoice in it and profess it before these others by striving to attend the great ceremonies of this week. This week especially, put Christ first, in the way that He put you first when he set out on the Way of the Cross.
I know I keep banging on about the tremendous treasure we have in our Catholic Faith, but if I don’t bang on about it, who will? It is a kind of wealth utterly unknown to society at large. It is a wealth which must be appreciated and then faithfully bequeathed to the rising generation, with no inheritance tax attached to it or any such thing — just pure gift. Parents first and foremost shoulder this privileged but exacting responsibility. If they show by their lives that they don’t really believe in Christ, that they treat Him as Someone who is irrelevant to their lives, then the pope, the bishop, the priest, the catechist, the Catholic school teacher can all tell the children otherwise till they are blue in the face and it will make not a blind bit of difference.
Our team of parish catechist exists to help the parents instruct their children in the Faith. It is an honourable task, but often a difficult one. I am grateful, as I have often said, indeed most grateful to the ten active Catechists of our parish who so generously give of their own quality time for the cause of Christ.
To help them in their task we gathered them together recently for a cheese and wine party, over which they had the opportunity of expressing to Paddy Rylands, a fellow parishioner much experienced in the art of Catechetics, their need and aspirations as parish catechists. It was an extremely successful occasion. All the catechists were there, minus one who was sick and plus one who wanted to join the team.
The outcome of their discussions was to fix a series of four evenings which they will call Catechist Conversations. The two hour sessions will begin with a prayerful reflection on a gospel passage, thereby putting Jesus at the heart of their deliberations. Then, each evening they will explore, under the guidance of Paddy, one particular aspect of the work of teaching and passing on the Faith. Finally they will discuss their own experiences here in the parish, in the various categories of catechesis—preparation of the parents for their children’s baptism, preparation of the children for first Confession and first Holy Communion, preparation of the young people for the Sacrament of Confirmation, and how to accompany adults in the Catechumenate as they journey to the Catholic Faith.
There can be no doubt but these sessions will prove hugely beneficial. And they are open to anyone in the parish who would like to join in this most important dimension of parish life, passing on the Faith.
In a different category from the types of Catechesis I have just listed above is the Sunday Children’s Liturgy. This is more a reflection on the Gospel of the day, with the Catechist challenged to make it meaningful and memorable to little minds. Because it employs a different technique it demands a different approach. So, we have arranged a special session dedicated to Children’s Liturgy on 20 June at Stella Maris from 10am to 12noon. The Catechists who will by then have attended most of the other sessions are encouraged to attend this one as well. Again, new volunteer catechists will be most welcome.
And finally in this regard, and again resulting from that cheese and wine party, I am delighted to announce to the Parish that on 3 October, from 10am to 2.30pm, the well known scholar Fr Michael Winstanley SDB will be conducting a Day of Recollection for the Catechists, entitled Who do You say that I am? Again it will be open to all parishioners, and will fulfil the Special Minsters’ obligation to make an annual day of recollection, an obligation laid on them by the Bishop and accepted by them when they renew their promises at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday.
Of course, before any new Catechist begins teaching they will need a DBS (CRB) certificate of clearance for Child Safeguarding and will need to be sanctioned and commissioned by me.
In all this, I am most grateful to Paddy Rylands and feel sure that the service our Parish offers in the field of Catechesis will go from strength to strength.
Visiting the Surgery on Wednesday afternoon, I was delighted to meet there two husbands of sick and housebound parishioners. While sending them my love via their spouses, I was left feeling sad that I hadn’t seen them for some time, as I am not so able to get around the sick as often as I used to. But happily, and thanks to Sr Jennifer and the Special Ministers, all the sick and housebound parishioners still receive Holy Communion regularly. I am expecting sometime soon to be admitted, for a very short stay and a relatively minor op, to the Maelor Hospital in Wrexham. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I am looking forward to being a new man thereafter. But a prayer or two form your good selves on my behalf would most certainly not go amiss!
God bless, Fr Antony
CALLING ALL PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS
The Preparation for Confirmation Classes begin on Tuesday 11 November. They are held at 4pm every Tuesday at Stella Maris for Years 7 and 8.
Contact me : email@example.com
NEXT PARISH COUNCIL: Postponed