Monday, 28 May 2012

Circling Doves

My goodness - a whole week since I posted. It must be the hot weather that suddenly arrived...  or just more sacraments and good stuff church-wise.
We had a great celebration of Pentecost weekend this year. At 6 o'clock Saturday evening in St Paul's, young Gabrielle made her first Holy Communion. She had missed out at the "proper time" and this is her normal Mass, so I was delighted to agree to it. She was beaming in her lovely special dress, and it made a great beginning to the Feast.
Back in St Paul's next morning the Children's Liturgy made an Olympic Torch with multi-coloured tissue paper flames pouring from it, and combined it with the theme of the Holy Spirit - very clever and inspirational. 
Back at St Brigid's for 10.30, we were baptising/receiving/confirming four new Catholics - a family of three and another lady. It was such a joyful occasion and the singing was particularly good - Spirit-led, I'm sure!  After a celebratory lunch at the 3 Arches (local hostelry), it was back over to St Paul's for a traditional Roary-Sermon-Benediction for May/Pentecost. Quieter, but just as beautiful.
Then back again to St Brigid's for a pause for breath before a Youth Mass at 6. Clare and her team had pulled in a particularly large number of young folks to take part, especially in teh music group - I thought it was fantastic, and got them clapping along at the last hymn. Such fine young Catholics, and such great hope for the future - bless them all. 
I rounded off the Feast of the Holy Spirit with an hour or two with our Sunday Prayer Group, which was fizzing too - we all prayed with one another, and I had a kind of mental picture not of flames separating, but of one Dove kind of splitting into many, circling over us all, one for each person.
Keep circling, Holy Spirit, as You did this weekend...

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sacraments and more

So we've come to the end of our sacramental three weeks, with two Confirmations and three First Holy Communions. Everything went well, ending with the kids of St Brigid's and St Paul's making their Communion yesterday. Several people were kind enough to say nice thimgs about my homily for the children, and how I was able to talk with them. While I am very, very used to Mass with children - for 34 years! - I forget that most people don't experience children's Masses, so aren't familar with the wonderful, alive quality that they can bring. Personally I love Mass with kids. Fantastic.
Onwards and upwards, as they say. Planning started this evening for our 3 Churches Mass on Sunday 8th July at 11am in Corpus Christi High School. It's going to focus on the sacraments, and especially on those who have received them this year. Lots more to come on this - watch this space!  Thursday I'm meeting with Archbishop George and a few others to discuss youth ministry in the archdiocese, but before that I'm off to Llantwit Major tomorrow evening to give a talk, and then interviews on Wednesday for the dputy head job at Christ the King Primary School. 
Meanwhile I have to read, absorb and write my opinion on three Canon law cases for a National Tribunal meeting on 14th June.
So on a lighter note here's a great picture someone posted on Facebook - very good, hahaha. (Thanks to Viv)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Group dynamics

Time for a video. I came across this little Pixar gem - you may have seen it.
You can apply its message to loads of situations, and then work out who is who in that setting. Anyway - enjoy a midweek little something!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Come what May

Busy May continues, with more Confirmations at St Brigid's on Tuesday, and more First Holy Communions at Christ the King today. Funerals are also sadly very much in the air too.
The daughter of a gentleman whose funeral was this week turned out to be part of a crowd of girls that I used to, er, know, in my teens. Yes, priests are human, and, yes, I did have a couple of girlfriends in those days. So there was a bit of "where are they now" chat...
And then there's Agnes who died in the early hours of Friday. A much loved parishioner of Christ the King, she had suffered a lot over the last period, and was wonderfully looked after by Cath, her daughter. They both have been regulars at our Sunday evening prayer group, and Agnes was a great lady and Christian. I'll miss her a lot, and so will the parish and many within it.
Good reports continue to come in about "Celebrate" last weekend, and my opening talk on Saturday morning seems to have gone down well. 
Fr T has taken the first half of his summer break starting today, so I'm on my own for just under a fortnight. It's a mixed blessing. On the one hand I like having someone else around - but on the other I can now play my music loud! Fr T is a quietish chap and I don't like to blast him with my music, so usually it's very good headphones that a considerate couple in the parish gave me a few years ago as a present.
Tomorrow I'm off to Ledbury in the evening to give the first of a series of talks they're having in the parish, something I'll also be doing in Llantwit Major next week. Then, after another funeral on Tuesday and my Fraternity of Priests on Wednesday, on Thursday I'll be chairing the diocesan Council of Priests with the Archbishop. I suppose it all keeps me young and beautiful! 

Monday, 7 May 2012

So much to "Celebrate"

I had a chill-out day today, after megabusy Sunday for Fr T and me. So this morning we took ourselves off for a quiet visit to Llantwit Major, one of my favourite spots, even in the rain. After a little while spent at St Illtud's ancient church (detail of one of the ancient stones left), we dashed through the drizzle across to the Eagle for lunch. Long wait, but a very tasty steak 'n' ale pie filled me up. As we drove home via Cowbridge, the Vale was only glimpsable through the showers, but it was oh so very green.
Anyway, on Thursday Archbishop Stack visited Christ the King for our first Confirmation since he came to Cardiff. I was very impressed, especially with the spirituality of the occasion and the personal attention he gave to each candidate at the laying on of hands and the anointing. He's back tomorrow for the slightly larger group from St Brigid's and St Paul's.
The next day, I had a very interesting phone conversation about youth ministry, about which I can't say anything yet, as I have several irons in this particular fire.
Finally - there was "Celebrate" at Corpus Christi. Wow. What a wonderful weekend. I enjoyed everything, and I wasn't even present for almost half of the time! The teaching, the youth activities and especially the music and the general atmosphere were really great. I found myself welling up a bit on several occasions - sometimes with the worship, but a few times as I watched parishioners getting really involved and uplifted. Two local musicians joined Ronan Johnston's band - and both were from from our 3 Churches! Proud parish priest... I only wish more folks could share the gifts that these wonderful weekends bring to our faith and our Church. And I had another networking conversation about youth ministry with someone who is a real expert. Watch this space...
Unfortunately I couldn't find Ronan's music  on the net very much, but here are 2 songs that we sang at "Celebrate". First - "Let's not go back to Egypt" had everybody clapping, waving  and generally jumping about. The video is of him playing it 2 years ago at another event at Walsingham, where the congregation were not as lively as ours this weekend!. Then, I have Ronan's setting of St Patrick's breatsplate, which  was equally uplifting in a slightly calmer way.
Fr M approves of "Celebrate". Bigtime.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

In search of Mary

Busy and exciting week... that I will post about in a day or two. Meanwhile here's my parish newsletter front page, with the image of Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius, and the Celebrate Conference banner that is presiding over our wonderful weekend (thanks to Peter Z for pic).
I seem to have followed Our Lady across many countries. On various pilgrimages and trips I have visited various of her shrines, from Penrhys to Nazareth, from Our Lady of the Cape in Quebec, Canada, to the “Gates of Dawn” in Vilnius, Lithuania.
This month we particularly honour Mary, the Mother of God. How much she, too, must have rejoiced in the heady days after the Resurrection of her Son. At Calvary she was given a new family, indeed a new Body of Christ, the Church. Weeks later the Holy Spirit forged that Church in the fire of God’s presence, on the day of Pentecost. The new Body needed a Mother, and so, of course, we are told she, too, waited with the apostles, just as Jesus had instructed.
Her story is one of constant availability to God our Father. It was that faith which enabled her to readily accept the unique role given her by the message of Gabriel. Artists often depict the Annunciation happening while she was reading the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. This symbolises both her deep faith in God’s Word, and the fact that at that moment the Word becomes flesh in her womb – it, or rather He, literally jumps off the page!
So this woman of constant availability to God continues to be God’s instrument in various places across the world, from the universally famous, like Lourdes, to the more local, like our own Penrhys, on the mountain between the two Rhondda valleys. Sometimes she seems to bring a message, as at Fatima, for example, other times the message is in the vision as it was at one of my favourites, Knock in Ireland. At all times she comes with a mother’s love and concern for her family.
It is important to remember that not one of the claimed messages is essential to our faith, not even Lourdes. When the Church “approves” an apparition it is simply stating that we see no reason to doubt that on such-and-such a day or days, this person or persons witnessed an appearance of Our Blessed Lady, full stop. To say anything definitively positive about a message would be to make that message essential to our faith, equal to Scripture and Tradition.
So it was not the Catholic Church that chose Mary, it was God. This month, how will you honour the one who was so honoured by God? Perhaps it is time to rediscover the Rosary, the Memorare and the other great prayers. Have you been to Penrhys or Our Lady of the Taper, in Cardigan, the National Shrine of Wales? Do you have her image in your home? May... the month of Our Lady.