Lourdes 2016

lourdes-1Please keep students and staff who are going to Lourdes this year in your prayers…

Pray especially for the students who will be working hard caring for the elderly and sick pilgrims.

And join your prayers to those of the servant-pilgrims by praying to Our Lady of Lourdes:

O ever-Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy,
health of the sick, refuge of sinners,
comforter of the afflicted,
you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings;
look with mercy on me.

By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes,
you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary,
whence you dispense your favors;
and already many sufferers have obtained
the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal.

I come, therefore, with complete confidence
to implore your maternal intercession.

Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests.
Through gratitude for your favors,
I will endeavor to imitate your virtues,
that I may one day share your glory. Amen.

 

Preparing for Lent

Ash Cross The famous prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman provides us with a way into understanding what Lent is about.

He wrote:

God created me to do Him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me,
which He has not committed to another.
I have a mission.
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.

Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
if I am perplexed, my perplexity may serve Him;
if I am in joy, my joy may serve Him;
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.
Amen.

Our Lent is for doing good: in all the circumstances of our lives, doing good.

  • What good might you do next?

Cardinal Newman was beatified in 2010, when Pope Benedict visited Birmingham. See pictures of the visit here, here and here. And read more about it here.

The Year of Mercy

Year of MercyBack in December, together with the Church throughout the world, students and staff at Bishop Walsh began to keep the Year of Mercy.

The Year offers us an opportunity to journey to a different and richer knowledge and experience of the mercy of God. It also provides us the opportunity to celebrate that mercy, and to live it more generously.

This month, January, Pope Francis wrote to young people of the world inviting them in a special way to join with him in prayer and celebration on April 23rd.

You can find the letter here:

Download (PDF, 157KB)

  • How might you respond to Pope Francis’ invitation?
  • Who might you invite to join with you?

Praying in December: The Year of Mercy

On December the 8th, the day when we celebrate Mary, protected from sin from the moment of her Conception, the Church also begins its keeping of the Year of Mercy.

In this Jubilee Year, Pope Francis calls the Church to focus on mercy, for mercy takes us to the very heart  of God who is love. God is not love in abstract, as an idea only. God is love in action. God does not just talk about it: he does it.

Year of MercyOne of the key scriptural texts is the parable of the finding of the lost sheep, and that gives us the image, like it or not (and it seems to be like ecclesiastial Bovril!) , that is the Church’s international symbol for the Year.

But the key point is not the image or logo, but the reality of mercy. It is God’s gift to us, and the mission of the Church and every Christian is to seek to live by God’s mercy, and to share the good news of God’s mercy with the whole world.

Pope Francis writes:

As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviours that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.

Points to bring to your prayer:

  • Why might God wish to be merciful?
  • Why does God need to be merciful to you?
  • How can you bring something of God’s mercy to others.

 

A whole Year to explore the mercy of God

Each month during the Year of Mercy there will be an opportunity to explore a different dimension of the parable of the Finding of the Lost Sheep’:

Here is the parable:

Jesus said: Who among you, if they had a hundred sheep, but then lost one, would not leave the ninety nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it. And when he found it would he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders, and then call together his friends and neighbours? ‘Rejoice with me,’ he would say. ‘I have found my sheep that was lost. In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who says sorry and wants to do better than over ninety-nine good people who have no need to say sorry.

Luke 15.4–7

A psalm for Advent

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

 

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

 

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

 

His ways are faithfulness and love
for those who keep his covenant and law.
The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him;
to them he reveals his covenant.

Psalm 24:4-5,8-9,10,14

The psalm invites us simply to turn again to the God who is good, faithful and loving. It reassures us of his help and friendship.

In our turning to him we do what is right. We might be turning from what is bad and wrong, but in turning we do what is good and best.

Praying in Advent

N-4081-nativity-432x379A number of religions see the world as a place of struggle between good and evil, and it is not clear which will win out. Will it be light or dark, good or evil?

They do not know God as God the Creator, but only gods in the world, some good, some bad.

For Christianity there is, as we say in the Creed, one God. All others are creatures. That God (Father, Son and Spirit) made all that is, and made it good.

We have free choice and through that evil and sin enter into the world. They are realities and they spoil and soil what was made good.

But the point is the world was made good, and it remains so, for all that evil and sin still make their mark. And in Jesus Christ the final victory over death and evil has already been won and is, even now, being shared with us in word and Sacrament and grace. Light has conquered, darkness is banished.

Yet in this month of Advent, when the world illuminates itself with Xmas lights, the Church urges us wait almost in the shadows, preparing ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. We need not be miserable, but for us the joy of Christmas is something much more than the commercial Xmas here-today and gone-tomorrow. For us Christmas is about the good life, and not just a good time.

  • Use Advent to wait for the Lord, to invite him to come close, to know our need of the gifts he brings.
  • Pray for those who suffer the consequences of evil and sin: the victims.
  • Pray for God’s will to be done, and for all human beings to flourish.

Picture of The Nativity at Night by Geertgen tot Sint Jans is in the collection of the National Gallery, London.

Praying for the Dead

November is by tradition the month when we pray for the dead.

It is a long standing tradition to take special care to pray for the dead during November, commending the souls of the faithful departed to God’s love and mercy, that they may be best prepared for heaven.

It is also a custom to visit the graves of family and friends and pray for them there.

If you get the chance to do that you might like to use the prayers below – or of course you can use them to pray where ever you are (though you might then need to change some of the words)

Visting a grave

Praying in October

RosaryOctober is by tradition the month of the Rosary

(Though we should not forget it is also the month of the feast of St Francis! One of the two patron saints of year groups whose feast does not fall in school holiday – the other is St Benedict.)

In praying the Rosary we are invited to call to heart and mind aspects of the lives of Jesus and Mary. Sometimes we pray a set of five Mysteries, sometimes we pray just one. However we pray it, the prayer helps us to connect again with the love and mercy of God, and the faithfulness of Mary, and find encouragement and hope for ourselves.

Not least it gives us the assurance we are not praying alone, for Mary surely responds to our request: ‘…Pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our rest. Amen.’