Newsletter- 17th Week of Ordinary Time
At Mass over this weekend our Holy Father Pope Francis has asked that we pray for the ministry of Grandparents. Grandparents in the main have no real agenda; they very often simply want the best for their grandchildren. My own grandparents, now long dead, had an enormous effect upon me personally and spiritually, as a child and as a young man. I found in them the unconditional love and support that I needed to grow and mature in life, and they helped me to discover for myself a deeper relationship with Christ and love of His Church. I suspect like my own grandparents, most grandparents only really want their grandchildren to be good, decent human beings, to know the difference between right and wrong, and to be able to make good moral decisions and, if they go astray along the way, to be able to find their way back to a loving, forgiving, and non-judgemental God. The role of Grandparents’ offers a vital contribution to our families, the Church and our society and their role and ministry was never as important I suspect as now, we are living in unprecedented times, with constantly changing social and moral values. Times of great emotional, physical, and financial stress. This weekend at Mass we give thanks for their value and their presence in our families, and we pray too that they may continue to be good teachers of wisdom and courage and that they may continue to pass on to future generations to come the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience. You will find in the Bulletin a lovely prayer written by Pope Emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI, which you may wish to make use of during the coming week.
Our readings at Mass this weekend reflect upon how we should pray. St. Therese of Lisieux described prayer as a “surge of the heart”. It is more than just words in our heads. It is truly sharing with God our deepest longings, joys, sorrows, and feelings. This is the type of prayer which Jesus teaches his disciples. He tells us to call God “Father”, an intimate term, and to remember that God is holy. He tells us to speak to God about his Kingdom and his will for us. We also speak of “our daily bread”, our needs. We ask for mercy and the ability to show mercy. And for God’s presence in times of trial. He also tells them to be persistent. Why? Prayer is not meant to “change God’s mind” but to draw us into union with the divine. Not giving up on prayer keeps the line of communication open, allowing God to speak to us also. This can help us see things in a different light, or lead us in a new direction, or soften our hearts. Or maybe we just need to be patient. Prayer is meant to break us out of our closed mindedness. We call to the God who is both near enough that we can call him Father and yet so different from us. God is a mystery to us, but through prayer we can gain insight into His nature. And then we can learn to depend on him for all that we need.
Holiday Absence: During late July and August, many within our parish will be taking a well-deserved rest, a time away for holidays and to visit friends and family at home and abroad. I shall myself be taking a short break away with my mother and an old friend, at my sister’s weekend cottage by the sea in Wales. I shall be away from the afternoon of Sunday 31st July until Friday 12th August. I am grateful to Canon Michael Bell for covering the weekend Masses (Saturday 6th August/Sunday 7th August), and to Andrew for offering two Services of Word and Holy Communion each week whilst I am on holiday. Andrew will be the point of contact for any emergencies during my absence. An old friend of mine will be house sitting in the Rectory during my absence. I would ask please that you check the Weekly Bulletin carefully for the service times during my absence. The Church will remain closed outside of these Liturgies. I shall be back in the parish to celebrate the great Solemnity of the Assumption (13th/14th August).
HMP Whatton – Mass with Confirmation – Saturday 23rd July – It was my great pleasure to assist and concelebrate Mass with Bishop Patrick on Saturday, at our regular Mass celebrated for Catholics in the Prison chapel, a Mass this Saturday at which Bishop Patrick administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to two of the men. Please continue to keep the community at Whatton, and all who work and minister there in your prayers.
Visit of the Right Reverend Dr. Vianney Fernando: I have invited, with the kind permission of Bishop Patrick, Bishop Vianney Fernando, the recently retired Bishop of Kandy, in Shri Lanka, who is staying locally with old friends in Great Gonerby over the weekend of 29th/30th/31st July, to come informally to visit our parish. He will join me for afternoon tea in the Rectory, along with his hosts on Friday 30th July and I have invited him to come to be the Principal Celebrant and Preacher at the 9.30 am Mass on Sunday 31st July. Bishop Vianney was named Bishop of Kandy on the 27th March 1983, by Pope St. John Paul II, and he retired earlier this year, on 17th January 2022. I know you will make Bishop Vianney very welcome during his informal visit to our parish that weekend.
As I look forward to my own holiday, I hope and pray that each of you too, who may be taking some well-earned rest and relaxation away in the next few weeks will enjoy your holidays and return to us rested and refreshed!
With my prayers for you during the coming week,
Your friend and parish priest,
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