The Church Speaks
The Church Speaks
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Never give in…keep on working at the Lord’s work always.
I know that there are so many important and serious matters to claim our attention as we gather for Mass this Sunday. We are beginning to emerge from the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic and to reflect on the personal as well as the global impact of the last two extraordinary years. We are reaching a pivotal moment on the Synodal Pathway, with the many valuable contributions from parishes, chaplaincies, Religious Orders, organisations and individuals currently being collated so as to shape our diocesan report.
We find ourselves again on the cusp of Lent, when Our Lord offers us a fresh opportunity to decide what is truly important in life and what can be discarded – what will enable us to be faithful and loving followers of Christ and what will only serve to lead us astray.
But perhaps above all this Sunday we are conscious of the worsening situation in Ukraine and the threat of war. On Wednesday, at his weekly audience, Pope Francis said: "Like me, many people throughout the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests … I would like all those who have the political responsibility to make a serious examination of conscience before God, who is the God of peace and not of war … He wants us to be brothers and not enemies."
The Holy Father has asked us to fast for peace on Ash Wednesday and to pray that the Queen of Peace will preserve the world from the madness of war. I have asked all our priests to offer a Votive Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice during this week. I know that you will join me in praying for the people of Ukraine, remembering especially the clergy and parishioners of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church together with my brother bishop, the Ukrainian Eparch Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski.
These are sombre times to be approaching Lent, far from the mood of carnival so often associated with Shrovetide. There is so much in the news to make us frown with disapproval. But we cannot afford to cast a critical eye on all that is happening around us if it causes us to forget what also lies within us: for a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.
As we prepare for Lent it is good to recall that Shrovetide signifies the time for confessing our sins and repairing our relationship with God and with one another. In his Message for Lent, Pope Francis writes: Lent is a favourable time for personal and community renewal, as it leads us to the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For our Lenten journey in 2022, we will do well to reflect on Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up”.
Today’s reading from St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians carries the same encouragement: "Never give in…keep on working at the Lord’s work always". The best way to begin our Lenten pilgrimage and to sustain us along the way is by seeking God’s forgiveness through the sacraments. Once again, the Holy Father urges us in his Lenten Message: Let us not grow tired of asking for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving.
Being forgiven through the power of the Holy Spirit, and in a sacramental manner that leaves no room for doubt, is a compelling motive for seeking to forgive those who may have hurt or wronged us. Among some remarkable examples of forgiveness over recent days I was particularly struck and moved by the Christian witness of the sister of Fr Jacques Hamel who was murdered at the altar during Mass in 2016. Rosaline Hamel decided to reach out to the mother of one of the men accused of murdering her brother. She explained: "I thought, ‘What if it was my son who, despite the education I had given him, had taken the wrong path to the point of becoming an assassin? How great would my pain have been then?’" Her faith in Christ enabled her to find forgiveness in her heart – not to condemn but to console, so that, in her own words: we could handle our pain together.
Forgiving is the Lord’s work. He readily forgives us when we humbly ask his mercy – and he brings forgiveness through us when we find the grace and the strength to forgive others. We can find that grace in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation – the place where we learn to notice and take out the plank that is in our own eye so that we can see clearly again.
I wish you every blessing this Lent and I echo the Holy Father’s prayer for all of us: May the Virgin Mary … obtain for us the gift of patience. May she accompany us with her maternal presence, so that this season of conversion may bring forth the fruits of eternal salvation.
Yours devotedly in Christ
+ Bernard Longley
Archbishop of Birmingham
Given at Birmingham on the 24 February 2022 and appointed to be read in all Churches and Chapels of the Archdiocese on the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (26/27 February 2022)
Pope’s Peace Day message: Tools for Building Lasting Peace:
Dialogue Between Generations, Education and Work
Everyone has a creative role to play in building peace
By Linda Bordoni, Vatican News (edited)
In his annual message for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, Pope Francis is calling on all men and women of goodwill, on government leaders, and on decision-makers to walk together with courage and creativity on the path of intergenerational dialogue, education and work.
Introducing his message, the Pope notes that the path of peace continues to remain “sadly distant from the real lives of many men and women.”
Citing the intensification of wars and conflicts, climate change and environmental degradation, an individualistic economic model and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, “the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth,” he says, “constantly make themselves heard, pleading for justice and peace.”
But, he points out, “in every age peace is both a gift from on high and the fruit of a shared commitment”, and he singles out three paths for building lasting peace.
1. Dialogue between generations
2. Education: a factor of freedom, responsibility, development
3. Work: a means for the full realization of human dignity
The first path is “dialogue between generations as the basis for the realization of shared projects,” is especially crucial, the Pope said, in a world still gripped by the pandemic that has driven so many to take refuge in their own little world or react to it with destructive violence.
The second path highlighted by Pope Francis in the pursuit of peace is education: a primary means of promoting integral human development. It makes individuals freer and more responsible, he says, and is essential for the defence and promotion of peace.
The third path offered by Pope Francis is one that rests on the belief that work is an indispensable factor in building and keeping peace. Pointing to the devastating effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the world of work, causing economic and productive activities to fail and unemployment to soar, the Pope says work, workers, and their rights are the foundation on which to build justice and solidarity in every community
See the full report here.
CBCEW, Friday, November 19th, 2021 @ 12:00 pm
During the pandemic, public worship was suspended for a time and there have been restrictions on parish life. As a result, people have been exploring other ways to practice their faith including Spiritual Communion via live streaming.
As people begin returning to more regular patterns of parish life and following the first face to face meeting of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales in Leeds, the bishops have issued the following statement about the importance of honouring Sunday:
Honouring SundayAs the Synodal Pathway of listening and discerning unfolds, we the bishops of England and Wales, are paying particular attention to the hopes and fears, the joys and anxieties of all who are sharing their thoughts and feelings with us.
Longing for our LordWe are attentive to the experience of the last year or so, when we have lived our faith through the limitations of the pandemic. We have heard of the longing which some express as a “homesickness”. We want to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. We yearn to celebrate the sacraments together, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We desire to be nourished by our Lord in Holy Communion. The live streaming of the Mass and the remarkable response of our Catholic communities to those in need, have provided comfort, sustenance and resilience.
The Eucharist, source and summitThe Eucharist is the source and summit of our spiritual and pastoral life. Many people have said to us that they have appreciated the noble simplicity of the Mass at this time, which has allowed the mystery and majesty of our Lord’s sacrificial love to shine through.
The central appeal of the Mass, its beauty and its transcendence, raises our minds and hearts to God in an unambiguous and compelling manner. Our Lord Jesus invites us to receive anew the gift of Sunday as the preeminent day, the day of the Resurrection, when the Church gathers to celebrate the Eucharist. Here we stand together before our heavenly Father, offering our thanksgiving and prayer, through our Saviour in the Holy Spirit. Here we receive Christ in his Word. Here we are nourished by Christ in his precious Body and Blood. This is our primary joy, for which there is no substitute, and from which we draw our strength.
The Gift of the Sunday EucharistThe Sunday Eucharist is a gift; as God’s holy people we are called to praise and thank God in the most sublime way possible. When the Church speaks of the Sunday obligation, it reminds us that attending Mass is a personal response to the selfless offering of Christ’s love.
At this time, we recognise that for some people there may be certain factors which hinder attendance at Sunday Mass. The pandemic is clearly not over. The risk of infection is still present. For some, there is legitimate fear in gathering together. As your bishops, we recognise that these prevailing circumstances suggest that not everyone is yet in the position to fulfil the absolute duty to attend freely Sunday Mass.
Responding to the GiftWe now encourage all Catholics to look again at the patterns which they have formed in recent months with regard to going to Mass on Sundays. This would include consideration and reflection about what we might do on Sundays, such as sports or shopping, or other leisure and social activities. This review, and the decisions which arise from it, fall to every Catholic and we trust this will be done with honesty, motivated by a real love for the Lord whom we encounter in the Mass.
The Sunday Mass is the very heartbeat of the Church and of our personal life of faith. We gather on the “first day of the week,” and devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42). The Eucharist sustains us and spurs us on, renewing our gratitude and our hope. When we say “Amen” to Christ in receiving his Body and Blood, we express the love of God which is deep within us, and at the end of Mass, when we are sent forth, we express our love for our neighbour, especially those in need. These two dimensions reveal the full meaning of our faith. We are gathered together and sent out, we pray and are fed, we worship and we adore; these are intrinsic to our lives as those baptised into Christ.
Approved at the Plenary Assembly of Bishops in Leeds.
Thursday 18 November 2021
Harvest Fast Day: on Friday 1st October, you can support people around the world who are dedicating their lives to protecting God’s creation - people like Ivanilde who are on the frontline of the climate crisis.
By donating to the Climate Crisis Appeal you can stand alongside communities like Ivanilde’s as they care for the earth.
Season of Creation
Cardinal Vincent Nicols speaks about the care of creation and the action they are taking in the Westminster Diocese. An example for us all?
Pope Francis, May 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
With the encyclical Laudato Si’ issued in 2015, I invited all people of good will to take care of the Earth which is our common home. For some time now this home has been suffering the wounds we have caused due to a predatory attitude which makes us feel like masters of the planet and its resources, and authorises us to irresponsibly use the goods God has given us. Today, these wounds are manifesting themselves dramatically in an unprecedented ecological crisis affecting the soil, the air, the water and, in general, the ecosystem the human beings live in.
The current pandemic, then, has brought to light even more strongly the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer the most from it, highlighting that everything is interconnected and interdependent and that our health is not separated from the health of the environment we live in. We therefore need a new ecological approach, which transforms our way of living in the world, our lifestyles, our relationship with the Earth’s resources and in general the way we look at people and live our life. An integral human ecology, which involves not only environmental issues but people as a whole becomes capable of listening to the cry of the poor and being a leaven for a new society.
We have a great responsibility, especially towards the future generations. What kind of world do we want to leave to our children and our young people? Our selfishness, our indifference and our irresponsible lifestyles are threatening the future of our children.
So, I renew my appeal: let’s talk care of our mother Earth. Let’s overcome the temptation of selfishness that makes us predators of resources. Let’s cultivate respect for the gifts of the Earth and creation. Let’s inaugurate a finally eco-sustainable lifestyle and society we have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all. From the hands of God we have received a garden, we cannot leave a desert to our children.
In such a context, on the 24th of May 2020 I announced the Laudato Si’ Year, the organization of which has been entrusted to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. I thank those who have been celebrating this year with many initiatives. Today, I am pleased to announce that the Laudato Si’ Year will lead to a concrete action project, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year journey that will involve our communities in different ways, so that they can become totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology. Thus, I would like to invite everyone to tackle this journey together. I’m addressing these seven realities in particular: families - parishes and dioceses - schools and universities – hospitals – businesses and farms – organisations, groups and movements – religious communities, working together. Only in this way will we be able to create the future we want. a more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world. On a journey lasting seven years we will let ourselves be guided by the seven Laudato Si’ Goals that will show us the direction as we pursue the vision of integral ecology: the response to the cry of the Earth, the response to the cry of the poor, the ecological economics, the adoption of a simple lifestyle, the ecological education, the ecological spirituality and the community commitment.
There is hope. We can all cooperate, each one with his/her own culture and experience, each one with his/her own initiatives and abilities, so that our mother Earth returns to its original beauty and creation returns to shine according to God’s plan. God bless each of you and bless our mission to rebuild our common home.
To support and mobilise all in the diocese to become true missionary disciples.
We are called to be a Catholic diocese which is:
faithful to the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ
full of missionary disciples who work together co-responsibly
in vibrant communities of faith,
joyful in their service of God and neighbour.
A Message from Archbishop Bernard Longley
We have a mandate given to us by Our Lord to spread the good news and serve and grow the faith for the coming decade and beyond.
Pope Francis is encouraging us to do something new to help us achieve this.
In Evangelii Gaudium he encourages us, the Christian faithful, “to embark upon a new chapter of evangelisation marked by this joy [of the Gospel] while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
Pope Francis urged the entire Church "to embark on a new chapter of evangelism". The Church must understand itself as a "community of missionary disciples", who are "permanently in a state of mission". He says that “’mere administration’ can no longer be enough.”
I have commissioned a number of groups who are looking at how we work in our parishes and in the Archdiocese to increase the opportunities that enable us to do God’s work and to fulfil the promises of our baptism.
I want us to look at how we will individually respond to God’s call to be missionary disciples in the Church and in our local communities, working joyfully together to spread the Word and the work of God. In essence, how will we unfold God’s plan for our diocesan church?
When I look ahead, I envisage a Catholic diocese which is:
· Faithful to the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ
· Full of intentional disciples in vibrant communities of faith, joyful in their service of God and others
· Where many more lay people are engaged in collaborative ministry
How can it happen and what will that look like given the challenges we face?
There are four areas I am asking us all to focus on:
Liturgy and Worship and
In our work on the four themes it is important that young people and families are a particular area of focus for all that we do. The universal call to holiness finds its first expression within families and its first recruits among young people. Catholic education and our diocesan youth services play an important role in serving families and young people. The links between the family, the parish and the school are vital to ensure that the faith is handed on.
I invite you to join me in looking with fresh eyes at our mission. We must take this opportunity to do all we can to make sure the Gospel is seen and heard through the example of our daily Christian lives.
With every blessing
Pastoral Letter 'Our Vision' - 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 12/13 June 2021
Diocesan Vision, Unfolding God's Plan | Birmingham Diocesan Trust (birminghamdiocese.org.uk)
Prayer for the Diocesan Vision
Written by the Liturgy and Worship group:
Spirit of God,
descend on me this day.
Grant me the Spirit of joy, to lift me,
the Spirit of hope to inspire me,
the Spirit of love to surround me and
the Spirit of truth to enlighten my path.
I pray for a new outpouring of your grace,
so that I may grow in worship of your name
in love of you in my prayer
and in my actions towards others.
Come Holy Spirit into my life to guide me.
Strengthen and defend me,
so that I may be drawn ever closer to you.
Help me this day and always
to be a channel of grace
in all I say and do
and invite others into relationship with you.
Pope Francis prayer intention for the month of June, invites everyone to pray for those preparing for marriage, which is “a vocation born from the heart.”
Pope Francis during the Sunday Angelus recalls the feast of the Most Holy Trinity which he said, “makes us contemplate this wonderful mystery of love and light from which we come and to which our earthly journey is guided.”
By Lydia O’Kane [Vatican News]
Pope Francis, during the Angelus from St Peter's Square recalled the feast of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday, describing it as an immense mystery which “exceeds the capacity of our mind, but which speaks to our heart, because we find it enclosed in that expression of Saint John which sums up all of Revelation: "God is love."
He went on to says that, insofar as God is love, and the one and only one, there is also communion between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Bond of unity
Addressing the faithful, the Pope explained that “it is the Father who gives himself by generating the Son, who in turn gives himself to the Father, and their mutual love is the Holy Spirit, the bond of their unity.”
“This mystery of the Trinity has been revealed to us by Jesus himself,“ emphasized Pope Francis. “He showed us the face of God as the merciful Father; He presented Himself, true man, as the Son of God and the Word of the Father.”
The Pope continued by saying that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete Spirit, that is, our Consoler and Advocate.
Mystery of love and light
The feast of the Holy Trinity, said Pope Francis, “makes us contemplate this wonderful mystery of love and light from which we come and toward which our earthly journey is guided.”
“In the proclamation of the Gospel and in every form of the Christian mission,” Pope Francis underlined, we cannot disregard this unity invoked by Jesus; the beauty of the Gospel demands to be lived and witnessed in harmony among us, who are so different."
He continued by saying that this unity, "is essential to the Christian: it is not an attitude, an expression: no. It is essential, because unity is the only way of life. It is essential, because unity is born of love, of God's mercy, of the justification of Jesus Christ and of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts."
Contact the churches
St Peter's & Our Lady's: 01926 423824
St Joseph's: 01926 772712
St Peter | Dormer Place, Leamington Spa, CV32 5AA
Our Lady | Valley Rd, Lillington, Leamington Spa, CV32 7SJ
St Joseph | 47 Murcott Rd East, Whitnash, Leamington Spa, CV31 2JJ