3rd Sunday of Lent – 7th March 2021
Fr David’s Message for the Week
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I have always been impressed by the collect for the Third Sunday of Lent which begins:
O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,
who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving
have shown us a remedy for sin…
We always tend to see sorrow as the remedy for sin as if our contrition can both make things right and, also, help us from falling in the future. But, whilst sorrow is certainly a key facet of the change that is necessary for turning away from our sins to a more virtuous self, of itself it will not affect a certain kind of change in us that is required long term, or shall we say, holistically so that we become people who are undergoing a constant process of conversion away from sin and towards holiness.
The Opening Prayer (Collect) has a fuller, more profound and deeper conversion of life in mind. It is to do with what the Church loves to call formation rather than training. That is to say, we can learn to be less greedy for all sorts of reasons by fasting (for example) without ever learning the virtue of seeing that everything we are and have comes to us from God and so, therefore, learning gratitude and being shaped by this revelation. We have not been shaped by this revelation; we have merely learned to adopt a certain attitude, we might say. We can learn to say the right and proper, appropriate, things to others, and even to God without ever learning the art of prayer and of conversation which is a dialog between two, or more people that comes and goes, speaks and listens, ebbs and flows, in a kind of rhythm that shapes our relationships. To be formed by prayer is to become a person in dialog with God, not someone who just recites “prayers” however beautifully formed they may be.
Almsgiving can be automatic, via a kind of “standing order” mentality even, that keeps up the appearance of being involved with whatever cause or need strikes us but without the engagement of our person which involves us emotionally, sympathetically, empathetically and compassionately. To “walk an extra mile” in the shoes of the homeless, or unemployed, or sick is to accompany them on a journey and to become Christ both to them and for them.
But what has this got to do with sin?
Well, sin is when I say (to myself as it were) “I know this is what I ought to do, or (better) what God wills me to do. But this is what I want to do.” And then to do that which is according to my will and not God’s. To be shaped and formed by all the things I have mentioned above is to allow God’s will to live and work within me and cause me then to act according to that which I have learned of God. To become Christlike, I suppose we could say. Once we have allowed Jesus Christ to be seen in us and through us then we have become holy. And being holy we are, at last whole.
God bless you all. Fr David
With thanks from Felicity
“I should like to thank you very much for all the prayers said and all the flowers, cakes; cards and letters I have received since David died. They have been a great support and help to me in the last month and I do thank you all very much or your kindness – I felt really supported by the parish, with love from Felicity”
How Live Simply helps Catholic communities to protect our Common Home while living more fully Tuesday, 9 March 11am-12pm
We have reached 85 livesimply awarded communities and there are a similar number of livesimplycommunities actively working on the Award in spite of the pandemic.
With Maria Elena Arana, livesimply Award Coordinator at CAFOD, Fr Rob Esdaile, parish priest at livesimply parish Our Lady of Lourdes Thames Ditton and Ellen Teague, livesimply Award assessor, learn more about how your parish or school could join us.
Register to join us.
CAFOD Lent Appeal
Abdella lives in an extremely remote and mountainous part of Ethiopia. It takes him ten hours a day to collect water. He says his life is being wasted as he has no time for anything else. Give today to reach vulnerable communities around the world with water and to provide other vital support. Donate online at cafod.org.uk/lent or by using a CAFOD envelope, or calling (0)303 303 3030 .You can also give via text. Text LENT to 70460 to donate £10*.
We are now in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight (22 Feb – 7 March), the annual event to raise awareness of the benefits of buying Fairtrade. These are that the producers receive a guaranteed minimum price – if the market price falls below the guaranteed price, they receive the guaranteed price but if it is above, they receive the market price. This gives them stability and enables them to budget and plan. In addition, they are paid a Fairtrade Premium over and above the guaranteed price; the producers can spend this on projects to help the local community, decided by the community. Not only this, but the Fairtrade Foundation helps producers meet the exacting ecological and welfare standards necessary for registration as Fairtrade, such as training in improved farming methods or advice on drought-resistant crops.
Both our churches are registered Fairtrade, which means we have made a commitment to only use Fairtrade tea and coffee at all parish functions (when we can have them) and to use other Fairtrade products as much as possible. We are also committed to raise awareness of Fairtrade among our parishioners and the wider community. Finally, we should all be buying Fairtrade products for our own use wherever possible. Many local shops have a good range of Fairtrade goods including Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Lidl. (When buying Sainsbury’s tea, make sure it is certified by the Fairtrade Foundation and has the Fairtrade mark, not their own “fairly traded” tea which is not independently certified and , although there is a premium paid, it is Sainsbury’s who decide what it is spent on not the local community.)
At this time, producers in the developing countries, as well as having to deal with the pandemic, are being greatly affected by climate change. They need all the help we can give them and buying Fairtrade is an excellent way we can do that while respecting their dignity.
Earlier this week, and having received a very large donation form a member of the Pound a Week Group, we were able to send the fantastic sum of £11,500 to Fr Sean McGovern to share with Fr Paul Kamau, Director of the Barpello Mission Secondary School. Fr Paul received £1,562 for university fees for students sponsored by members of the Group (including a small gift of £32 for one of the students) plus £5,000 to be used where he sees the greatest need. Fr Sean received the balance of £5,238 for use where he sees the greatest need at his large Rotu Mission. I have asked both of them to let us know in due course how the discretionary funds were used.
I received a letter recently from a young man by the name of Anthony Kibet Lotiang who had attended the Barpello school and three years ago received an offer of a place at University. Fr David Conway, the priest in charge at that time of the Barpello Mission, told me that Anthony would have to decline the offer if he did not receive sponsorship as the family circumstances made it impossible for him to pay any fees. Two members of our Group sponsored Anthony through university and here is his letter of appreciation. It was addressed to me but it was meant for his sponsors and I have passed it on to them.
“ I wish to express my sincere gratitude to you as my sponsor. Sincerely, you have immensely assisted me in my 3rd level of education and I am very grateful for your concern for my education. I would like to inform you that I have finished my studies at South Eastern Kenya University. I acknowledge too your generosity in sponsoring my upkeep and that really enabled me to get along smoothly in campus. My graduation is on 15 August 2021. Fr Paul Kamau has employed me as a teacher of Business Studies and History. This opportunity for sponsorship and employment will enable me to assist my siblings who look upon me to provide for them as they study as I am their father and mother. Our parents had passed on earlier and it had become a very desperate situation for me until Fr David Conway offered me Pound a Week scholarship for which I will always be grateful to you my dear sponsor. Your sponsorship and this employment has lifted our poverty in our home. Life for me has changed as I am privileged to have a certificate now and fend for my brothers and sisters and enable them to achieve their dream. May God bless you and thank you for changing my life through education.”
Anthony is living proof of the Holy Ghost Fathers’ guiding principle that only by providing the Pokot people with education, alongside the spread of the Gospel, will they be lifted out of a life of poverty.
Eugene McGivern (01483-893379 or at email@example.com )
- Saturday, 6 March 2021
- 10:00 am 12:30 pm
Led by Audrey Hamilton via Zoom
A time of prayer, input and reflection as, journeying through Lent, we experience the height and depth of God’s personal love for us.
Starts at 10am and ends at 12.30pm.
- Sun, 7 Mar 2021 3:30 pm – Sat, 13 Mar 2021 4:30 pm
Led by the House of Prayer Team via Zoom
A Week of Accompanied Prayer is an opportunity to reflect upon ‘how things are going with you and how things are going with God’ (Thomas Merton). Following an introductory meeting on Sunday 7 March, you will meet with a prayer guide for 15 to 30 minutes each day of the week to explore and seek opportunities to deepen your prayer life. Meetings can be arranged around your daily commitments and can be in person or another platform, including Zoom, WhatsApp, or FaceTime. The week will end with a closing prayer meeting on Saturday 13 March.
- Fri, 19 Mar 2021 7:00 pm – Sun, 21 Mar 2021 4:00 pm
Led by the House of Prayer Team via Zoom
A weekend silent residential retreat with an individual guide for each retreatant. This retreat provides an opportunity to step aside from the busyness of everyday life and spend time in quiet prayer and reflection. A retreat guide will be available for daily individual meetings to accompany you through the retreat. Above all, this retreat is a time of listening to God who is present in the experiences of prayer and daily living. All communal prayer meetings and spiritual direction will be online using the Zoom platform.
Retreat from home cost: £60
- Saturday, 24 April 2021
- 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Led by Gemma Simmonds, C.J. via Zoom
Lockdown has stripped many of us of the identifying markers by which we define our lives: normal patterns of work and relationships, both private and professional, patterns of interaction with wider society, patterns of travel for both work and leisure. Many of us have had to re-negotiate our sense of meaning and purpose and are searching for tools to help us. The teaching of Ignatius of Loyola on consolation and desolation can be a useful means of navigating these new pathways and finding the hidden opportunities within the pandemic crisis.
Starts at 10am and ends at 4pm.