25th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 19th September 2021
From Father Alistair
Unusually for me, I spent part of my day off this week shopping; more browsing really as I didn’t end up buying anything. I’m never terribly retail-minded at the best of times but I had a real moment of visceral panic on Wednesday seeing not only Advent calendars on display but also mince pies, artificial Christmas trees and lights, wrapping paper and cards all on sale. How long had all this been available? Should I have started thinking about Christmas already? Was it really time now to grit one’s teeth in the face of the ever lengthening count down to the annual festivities?
I think it was more shock than anything else, seeing Christmas items on sale even before the popular secular celebrations Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes have been, gone and passed out of the popular consciousness. Certainly, thank goodness, there was no accompanying Christmas muzak in the shopping centre … yet … nor did I see fireworks on sale but then again I wasn’t in a garden centre which seem to be the places to buy fireworks nowadays.
Just to be a bit of a Cassandra for a moment, as of this Sunday (19th September), there are 97 days until Christmas … ninety-seven … nine, seven … and since one can now go shopping every day, Sundays included, that means only 97 more shopping days until Christmas!
Being confronted by the retail reality of Christmas at least made me examine the diary to sort out the probable times and venues of parish Christmas services and Masses.
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You may hear, rather dismissively on occasion, the description of Christmas as being something for children. I was rather taken several years ago with the title of a book featuring a digest of some of the work on the biblical infancy narratives (Mt 1:1-2:23 and Luke 1:5-2:52) by world renowned scripture scholar Raymond Brown – “An Adult Christ at Christmas”. We are invited to approach Christmas with age-appropriate faith: more mature and thought out for adults; something still forming and growing for children.
In the Gospel this weekend (Mk 9:30-37), we hear Jesus saying: “Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Children feature frequently in Mark’s Gospel: Jairus’ daughter (5:22-24,35-43); the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter (7:24-30); on leading others astray (9:42) – a verse so often used in commentary on incidents of child sexual abuse and cases of paedophilia; Jesus and the children (10:13-16).
Jesus has just accused the people of being “unteachable” on the issue of adultery (10:5) and then goes on to say, “anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (10:15). Is this telling us that children are more open and receptive, or perhaps more biddable, than their parents and adults in general? Is it child-ish or child-like innocence that will get us into heaven? Probably neither of those things.
Think of what can so often drive a poor, weary and stressed parent almost to distraction – that repeated, insistent, interrogative refrain from a young child, “Why? … why? … but why?” and the initially patient parental answers becoming gradually more abrupt and desperate as the questioning persists.
Could it be that we are being encouraged to adopt that approach, to question and really examine our faith and what it is we think we believe? Credal statements, professions of faith, confessions of belief, whatever you call them, they can be recited by rote, repeated without conscious engagement, or never really considered and examined from a personal perspective.
Do you remember how you felt when the [“new”] third edition of the Roman Missal was introduced at Mass with the change from “We believe …” to “I believe …” No more hiding among the crowd, one voice among many; now I make my personal profession, more exposed, perhaps more daunting. I will, at some point in the weeks ahead, have to make my own public Profession of Faith as part of my formal induction as the parish priest of Cranleigh and Bramley.
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I believe … that Advent is important if Christmas is to be celebrated in all its fullness, just as the joyful expectation during pregnancy may lead to rejoicing at a safe delivery and new arrival.
Hmmm? So, which of the many still unopened packing boxes contains the leftover Christmas cards from last year? I wonder? That discovery will help me to delay seasonal shopping until the season is much, much closer – at least perhaps until the last posting date before Christmas!
Bishop Richard of Arundel & Brighton
PASTORAL LETTER for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
There has been much coverage of the Assisted Suicide Bill, currently making its way through the House of Lords. It is important that we take action to challenge this proposed legislation. It is also vital that we affirm our support for the best possible end-of-life care, including spiritual and pastoral support for those who are dying and for their families. This has been made all the more urgent as a result of the decision by the British Medical Association to take a neutral position on this issue, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
The Catholic Church remains opposed to any form of assisted suicide. It is a crime against human life and we cannot directly choose to take the life of another, even if they request it.
It is the case that, in this country as in many others, we have a growing elderly population. The needs of the elderly and the needs of those who live with disability have been highlighted further during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bill currently being considered raises serious questions about society’s ability to protect those who are most vulnerable. We must ask how the law can ensure that a person will be free from pressure to end their life prematurely due to perceptions about ‘quality’ or ‘worth’ of life, and will not feel the need to act out of a sense of ‘being a burden’ to family and to the wider society. In this context, it is important for us all to reach out to those who may feel isolated or lonely, enabling them to recognise their value and the contribution their experience and wisdom brings to others.
We have seen, in recent years, the impact of Assisted Suicide legislation in other parts of the world such as Belgium, Canada and the State of Oregon. Evidence shows that the introduction of laws for ‘small numbers of cases’ has inevitably led to an exponential growth in those seeking ‘assisted dying’. The State of Oregon has seen an increase of 1075% in ‘assisted deaths’ between 1998 and 2019, Belgium has seen a 925% increase between 2002 and 2019, and in Canada the increase in only four years between 2016 and 2020 has been 648%. These are deeply concerning figures and are accompanied by an expansion of grounds, to include assisted suicide for children, non-terminal illness and non-terminal psychiatric illness. We should be in no doubt that any legislation to permit assisted suicide in our own country would take us in the same direction.
This country has a fine tradition and experience in end-of-life care, rooted in the care and compassion that is at the core of our humanity. This is seen when the best possible care is available, that all may be enabled to come to the end of their lives with the best of pain relief, surrounded by family, whether in hospital, hospice or at home. The provision of this care should be a priority.
As followers of Christ, we recognise the Sanctity of Life in all around us. This must urge us to call everyone to this place of compassion; to the greatest care and respect for the most vulnerable in our society. The work of opposing this Bill demands our prayerful support and action.
You can find out more and gain information as to the best possible way to oppose the Bill on the website of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales: www.cbcew.rg.uk/life-issues
Information has also been sent to parishes and is available on our own diocesan e-news and website: www.abdiocese.org.uk
With every Blessing, from Bishop Richard
CAFOD Family Fast Day – Climate Crisis Appeal
Our local experts are helping people all over the world to adapt to climate change and protect our common home. This Family Fast Day, donate in the parish using a CAFOD envelope or online through the CAFOD website (cafod.org.uk/climatecrisis) and help communities affected by the worst impacts of the climate crisis. You can also add your voice to our online petition calling for our Prime Minister to show leadership in tackling the climate crisis, cafod.org.uk/climate. And thank you for your generosity for our emergency appeals to support our sisters and brothers in crisis in Afghanistan and Haiti. You can read more about CAFOD’s response at cafod.org.uk/emergencies.
- The Cranleigh Coffee Morning will recommence on 14th October – all over 50’s are welcome each 2nd Thursday of the month from 10.30 to 12pm.
- Cranleigh Coffee this Sunday 19th September – The Kibbles will host an informal coffee following Mass on Sunday in Cranleigh and all are welcome to come along. If you would like to host one of the coming Sundays coffee following Mass please leave your name and number with either the hosts on Sunday or by dropping a line to the Parish office. Rotas will be issued shortly.
. Did you know that you can set up a Foundation Mass?
A Foundation Mass is an arrangement to have a Mass offered annually for a particular intention which will be celebrated annually for 25 years. The capital sum for a Foundation Mass is £300. The stipend for each Mass is £10. Each quarter a notification of the Unit Trust interest paid to the parish will be provided. At the end of 25 years the capital sum will be transferred to the Ecclesiastical Education Fund. A newly ordained priest is requested to offer one Mass for the intentions of the donors. Instructions for a Foundation Mass may be written into Wills or individuals may request that a Mass be offered for a deceased person or for some other intention “on or about” a determined date. Please contact the Parish office if you would like to set up a Foundation Mass arrangement.
St Cuthbert Mayne Primary School –Admissions News: Open Mornings 2021
If you have a child that is due to start Reception class in September 2022 and you would like a tour of our school, please contact the school office to book an appointment.
September Thursday 30th 2021 at 10am-11am
October Thursday 21st 2021 at 9.30am – 10.30am
November Thursday 4th 2021 at 9.30am – 10.30am
Please contact the school by using: email@example.com
Missio Red Boxes
I and the team of parish promoters would like to collect the monies from the Red Boxes during September/October. Most box holders should be contacted by their promoter directly over the next 4 weeks and arrange either to collect your box from you or meet you at Church with it. Please ensure your name is on the bottom of your box for identification.
I know that times are really difficult with the corona virus and that cash is not being greatly used but it would be really good if I could bank some money (coins and/or notes or cheques made payable to “Missio” !) for the wonderful work that Missio carries out around the world bringing the Word of God to many very poor regions as well as education, medical needs and community support in very challenging circumstances. Thank you very much for your support over the years .
If you do not have a Red Box already and would like to support the missionary work in very poor countries please contact me and I will get a box to you. Fran Pickett. Local Secretary. Tel. 01483 276614. Email firstname.lastname@example.org