Saturday, 28 March 2015

The 4th Cup, Passion Sunday, Vigil Mass Audio

Friday, 27 March 2015

Lent Talk 6: Mortification & Self-Denial

Before entering into Holy Week, the final session of our Lenten Talk series will look at the place of self-denial and mortification. 'Mortification' means dying to ourselves that Christ might come to life in us.
A PDF of the talk slides can be viewed here

The other talks in this series can be heard by clicking here

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Confession, 5th Sunday of Lent, Year B

Jn 12:20-30; Jer 31:31-34
This past couple weeks we’ve all, no doubt, started to see the signs of spring. For me, the yearly sight of crocuses is always what makes me realise that spring is on the way, that new life is coming after the winter.
But I realised this spring that I’d almost forgotten what spring looks like. I’d gotten used to the sight of brown earth in the flower bed. No flowers. No leaves on the trees. No green. This winter I just got used to it. I forgot that it could be otherwise.

And it occurred to me that my soul can be the same. I can get used to things being lifeless or tepid or barren. I can get used to the sin.
Maybe small sins that I’ve gotten used to.
But I can used to the big sins too.
And then there are so many sins that can start small but become big, or that I can forget how big they’ve become:
Being irritable, habitually, so people are wary of me;
Being impatient, so that I don’t suffer fools gladly;
Being careless, so that people can’t rely on me as they should be able to;
Being lazy, so that things just don’t get done.
All these things and more I can just get used to, I can forget that it possible to be otherwise.

Today’s first reading contains the prophecy of Jeremiah that there would be a “new covenant” to replace the old one. The Chosen people had broken the old covenant by their unfaithfulness, by their sins.
And the Church reminds us of this promise of the “new” covenant, even though we already live in this “new” covenant, in Christ Jesus. The Church reminds us of this “new” offer because she knows that we always stand in need of being re-made.
In particular, in the season in of Lent, we’d do well to remember that the word “lent” is an old Saxon word for “spring”. So all of our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in this season is aiming at achieving a similar new growth in our hearts.

But if we are to have this new growth, if we are to remember what spring feels like in our souls, just like nature is showing us once again what spring looks like in the plants,
if we are to have this new life then something has to die within us first, and that something is sin.
The Lord said, as we just heard, that a grain of wheat must die if it is to bring forth a harvest of new life. My sins, likewise, must die. And they die by my repenting of them, and the Lord forgiving me for them.

This Wednesday evening, in preparation for Easter, there will be 4 priests here to hear your confessions. And Thursday evening there will be the same number of priests in Blandford church or confessions. This is a key moment of the year for us to think about those things within us that we have allowed ourselves to get overly used to, like getting used to the brown barren earth and forgetting what spring greenery and flowers are like.

The great gift of living in the “new covenant” is that we can repent and start again. And, even more so: the great gift of being in the season of Lent, is that this is a special moment of grace, a special moment to come back to life.
So let’s not get used to barren brown earth in our souls, let’s get to confession, let’s open our souls to Christ that life may spring forth.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lent Talk 5: A Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

Do I relate to God in the impersonal remote manner characterized by Islam, Buddhism or the pre-Christian religions? Or do I know and love Him personally, "as a friend knows a friend"?
A PDF of the talk slides can be viewed here

The other talks in our 2015 Lenten talk series can be heard by clicking here

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mothering Sunday, 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21
In our Scripture readings today there are a number of themes, and I’m going to focus on one: the Love of God for us: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”(Jn 3:16) and, “God loved us with so much love that He was generous with His mercy”(Eph 2:4).
I want to speak today, on Mothering Sunday, about how God’s plan for humanity is such that He has given us mothers to give us an emotional understanding of this divine love.
God has made us the kind of social beings that need to experience love. He’s not made us like lizards that hatch out of an egg, all alone, with no need to be mothered and loved. No, he’s made us the kind of beings that need to be loved, and this human experience of being loved, as a mother is called to give, gives us a taste of God’s love for us.
Let me note at least three things that mothers are called to do. (These actually apply to fathers too, though today we think of mothers, so I'll phrase this referring to them.)

First, mothers are called to introduce their children to God and to those truths that relate to God.
So, even though prayer comes naturally to children, I still needed someone to teach me how to kneel by the side of my bed and pray, and my mother gave me that teaching.

Second, and linked, mothers are called to introduce their children to the right way to live: the virtues; the commandments; the life Christ showed us.
I needed someone to teach me not to punch my little sister, and that person was my mother.

Third, to return to my beginning, MOTHERS ARE CALLED UPON TO TEACH US THAT WE ARE LOVED.
And this is my main point today.
In religion classes and sermons we are taught that God loves us.
BUT in order for me to understand, emotionally, what it means to say that, “God loves me”, I first need to have had an emotional EXPERIENCE of what it means that someone loves me.
When my mother fed me I experienced what it was to be loved.
When my mother kept me warm I experienced what it was to be loved.
Similarly, when she protected me, forgave me, held me, and so forth, I experienced what it is to be loved.
I don't think I have ever doubted that I was loved, and this must be a gift I have received from my parents.
This was part of God’s plan for what parents are supposed to do for children: that we might have a taste of the fact that God loves us. So that when we see and hear about God loving us it might make sense to us. It might enable us to have an opening to that even GREATER love that God has for me, for He loves me even more than my mother does.

And of course, in reverse, as we grow older, our knowledge and experience of how God loves and forgives us can help HEAL those emotional wounds within us from the different ways our parenting fell short of what it should have been.
Parental love can introduce me to God;
God’s love can heal my lack of experiencing parental love.

So today, on Mothering Sunday, let us pray for those who lack a mother’s love.
Let us give thanks to God for the experience of love He gave us through our mothers.
And let us realise that this points to the even deeper love that God has for you and for me, because, as Scripture puts it, “does a mother forget the child at her breast? Yet even if she forgets, I will never forget you”(Isa 49:15).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Lent Talk 4: Order & the Heroic Minute

Living a 'life in the Spirit' does not mean living a life of disorder! Tonight's session will examine how to identify the 'hinges' that enable us to put patterns of order and discipline into our lives -the order we need if we are to be free for Christ to enter in.
A PDF of the talk slides can be viewed here

The other talks in our 2015 Lenten talk series can be heard by clicking here

MT7c IVF In Vitro Fertlisation

10th March 2014, text available here
Divorce and Remarriage & Holy Communion
Lecture to Ordinariate London clergy formation group