Sunday 31 December 2023

Guide us with your grace, give us faith so we'll be safe

I thought it was about time to do some blogging again, and what better time than the end of one year and the beginning of another?   I get so much from music and have become a fan of Pentatonix, the leading American a capella group, that is there is no accompaniment as the five members produce all the sounds.

Here for the New Year is their version of 'The Prayer' a song with many versions, but this one really shows their skills and the beauty of the arrangements.  The lyrics are below. 

Let this be our prayer...  and a blessed New Year!

I pray you'll be our eyes   and watch us where we goAnd help us to be wise     in times when we don't knowLet this be our prayer   when we lose our way
Lead us to a place   Guide us with your graceTo a place where we'll be safe 
La luce che tu hai   I pray we'll find your lightNel cuore rester√†    And hold it in our heartsA ricordarci che   When stars go out each nightL'eterna stella sei    Oh 
Nella mia preghiera   Let this be our prayerQuanta fede c'√®   When shadows fill our days
Lead us to a place   Guide us with your graceGive us faith so we'll be safe
A world where pain and sorrow will be endedAnd every heart that's broken will be mendedAnd we'll remember we are all God's childrenReaching out to touch inReaching to the sky
We ask that life be kind
And watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
Another soul to love
Let this be our prayer -
Just like every child   needs to find a place
Guide us with your grace   Give us faith so we'll be safe
Needs to find a place   Guide us with your graceGive us faith so we'll be safe
Songwriters: Carole Bayer Sager / David Foster

Thursday 20 April 2023

Young gifts - dance

These are Ghetto Kids from Kampala, Uganda, on recent 'Britain's Got Talent'. What energy... life... Easter...

Young gifts - voice

This is Londoner Malakai with a voice from heaven, singing 'Pie Jesu' from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Requiem' recently on 'Britain's Got Talent.'

Friday 7 April 2023

Thursday 6 April 2023

He got up from table, removed his outer garment

Today we begin the Sacred Triduum or Three Days. The drama unfolds over Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.There are always new things to discover in the Bible, especially in the Gospels. Just looking at one commentator on Mass readings, I found some thoughts on one sentence in the Gospel for this evening, the Mass of the Lord's Supper: "He got up from table, removed his outer garment".

It turns out that the original Greek words were more like "laid down" his garment and "rose" from the table. Both of these words almost always refer in the New Testament to Jesus' Death and Resurrection. 

This is all very much St John's style, and so we can see why people often say that the Washing of Feet replaces the institition of the Eucharist in the fourth Gospel. There is a parallel with the actions and words of Jesus over the bread and wine: he took, blessed, broke and gave saying 'my body given for you', and 'my blood poured out for you.' 

The foot washng is not just a lesson leading to a moral lesson for us all, important as that is. Both the washing of feet and the Eucharist point us to the life giving Death and Resurrection that Jesus was to accomplish over the next few days.

Monday 3 April 2023


Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. The weather held out, so we were able to have our processions in each of the three morning Masses in our churches.  Mind you, none of them had as many people - or palms- as they had in the city of Antipolo in the Phillipines, as this picture shows..
This week is the very centre of our Christian year. There is always a lot to do in parishes at this time of year, but we are blessed with many people in our chrches who get stuck in, and everything always goes well. 

The Palm Sunday cry, of course, is "Hosanna" so here is the Hosanna hymn from Hillsong. The video is of Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, with the crowds following the route down the Mount of Olives followed by Jesus.

Friday 31 March 2023

Myfanwy + Cello = Magic

Take a listen to Sheku Kanneh-Mason's new version of the beautiful melody "Myfanwy", written by Joseph Parry, born Merthyr Tydfil, died Penarth and buried in the St Augustine's churchyard high on Penarth Head.  This famous song can reduce me and many others to tears, and some say it is a sign of Welshness if it enthrals you. 

Here Sheku, member of a famous musical family, is filmed I think in Wales appropriately, either on the Brecon Beacons or maybe Snowdonia.  Listen, drift, think and maybe pray. 

Thursday 9 March 2023

Woman At The Well

I'm sharing this dramatic interpretation of Sunday's Gospel, even though I did before, as it is so striking. The text can be found on this Sunday's newsletter.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Happy St David's Day!

Happy St David's Day!  Here's a little video about St David (and leeks) that's for children really, but that makes it easy and accessible! There are other online if you search "Saint David"

Saturday 25 February 2023

Psalmed into Lent


Before Lent gets too far underway, I'll share, as I have done before, Allegri's setting of Psalm 50/51, the "Miserere" (Have mercy...).  This famous and beautiful piece is sung here by the Sixteen, a wonderful choir. This was the responsorial psalm for Ash Wednesday, but serves as an intro or commentary for all of this season. Sit back, listen, relax, and be gently drawn into Lent.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, c.1860 by Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885), © Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart

I was surprised at first when I received today's artwork from ChristianArt. The painting is of a clown sitting in what I took to be a prison cell.  I thought of "Vesti la Giubba", the famous aria from opera "I Pagliacci", where the clown has to go on with the show despite his broken heart. In fact the opera was not written until 1892, 30 years or so after the pictuure was painted by German Carl Spitzweg around 1860.  But the painting is entitled "Ash Wednesday", so my next though was of the Carnival, and in particular the "Carnevale" in Venice where people dress up in costumes and masks, and where one of the traditional characters is the Pierrot, the clown. This festival takes place in the days before Lent begins, when you had to use up the food that would not be eaten in that season. By extension, a good time in general was, and is, had by all before the austerity of Lent. The word carnival comes from the Latin for "farewell to meat" = vale carne.

Now the picture started to make more sense. The carival is over, as the Seekers sang back in the 60s. Our clown has had his fun and now finds himself alone in a quiet place. I originally thought he was in prison, but not necessarily so. However, everything is indeed bare, and he bows his head as he starts to reflect after all the activity of the carnival. Time to reflect, to see how things are going in our lives when we look beyond the surface stuff - under the clown's garb, the priest's garb, or anyone's garb or outer appearance.

In Mass this morning I reflected on the opening words of the first reading, from the prophet Joel:

   Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –come back to me with all your heart

Today, as Lent begins, the Lord calls us back in the central areas of our Christian life - our relationships with Hm, with our neighbour and with ourselves, as indicated by the Gospel's drawing our attention to prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Yes we are to enjoy life, live to the full, but we must also admit that we often wander off the road, down alleys, get stuck at roundabouts etc. We need time and space to hear that call "Come back to me". We need to create an opportunity to stop, to reflect, to adjust. That doesn't need to be a bare cell like the clown, but it does mean letting go of the distractions and superficialities in the way that the cell represents.


Saturday 24 December 2022

Christmas warmth

I have loads of pictures on my computer of all sorts. Not surprisingly, the "religion" folder is pretty big, then you select "Christ", then "Nativity". There you find about 10 different images, and I've chosen this one for Christmas 2022. I've forgotten who painted it, undoubtedly Italian, 15th century, maybe Giovanni di Paolo. 

So often the colours of Nativities are a bit cold, maybe with snow etc.   I like the warmth of the colours this painting gives, spreading a Christmas glow. So may you feel the warmth of our Saviour's love fill you this Christmas!


Saturday 17 December 2022

Christ the King webcam live!

Today we move on a step in our communications, as the live webcam at Christ the King church is now on stream.  We have had 24/7 live streaming from St Brigid's since early on in the pandemic, and now it's joined by Christ the King. 

It took Fr Andy and me a while to get used to being on camera all the time in St Brigid's, but after a while you get used to it.  A few parishioners like readers said the same, but I'm sure it will all go well at our first streamed Mass, which is this evening at 6pm.  Sunday Mass from St Brigid's can also be viewed a few hours later via Youtube, search "3 Churches Cardiff".

As with St Brigid's, you can access the streaming at any time either via our 3 Churches website or drectly from here by clicking/pressing on the button to the right >>>>>



Saturday 5 November 2022

Separation (2)

Separation isn't only at death.  We have to handle all sorts of separation in life too, don't we, and I suppose those that happen in relationships, friendships, love, are the hardest. We all have to work hard sometimes to keep relationships going, to stop them growing stale, but, of course, there are times when they have just run their course. When it's at its worst, I catch a glimpse on occasion of the suffering that can follow in my work with people from broken marriages

There are many poems and songs about such events in life, but not many capture the raw emotion that can be involved as openly as Irish singer Sinead O'Connor's song and video from 1990 "Nothing Compares To You".  The song was written by American Prince, but her version became better known than the original. The video must be one of the most dramatic and best-known ever produced for a song. Sinead O'Connor went on to have a complicated life but continues to produce music.  But I don't think she ever matched this classic outpouring. Watch out for the real tears in the last chorus.


It's been seven hours and 15 daysSince you took your love awayI go out every night and sleep all daySince you took your love awaySince you been gone, I can do whatever I wantI can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurantBut nothing I said nothing can take away these blues'Cause nothing compares,  nothing compares to you
It's been so lonely without you hereLike a bird without a songNothing can stop these lonely tears from fallingTell me baby, where did I go wrong?I could put my arms around every boy I seeBut they'd only remind me of you
I went to the doctor, guess what he told meGuess what he told meHe said, "Girl you better try to have fun, no matter what you do"But he's a fool
'Cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you
All the flowers that you planted mamaIn the back yardAll died when you went awayI know that living with you baby was sometimes hardBut I'm willing to give it another try
Nothing compares,   nothing compares to you...

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Separation (1)


Here is a poem/reflection by priest-poet John O'Donoghue that I used in Mass for All  Souls today. The sculpture is the late "Pieta" by Michelangelo in Florence.

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

“For Grief” by John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (Doubleday, 2008)

Saturday 8 October 2022

Ritual, Royalty - and Rosary : the procession to Westminster Abbey

I wanted to put on here something to do with the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, watched by millions across the world.   I've chosen the procession from Westminster Hall, where her body had lain in state, to Westminster Abbey where the Funeral Service then followed. The sequence lasts some 16 minutes, with no commentary, and my choice might seem surprising. It consists mainly of military marching, and is highly ritualised, the bagpipe and drums music accompanying the rhythm of the young ratings, the royal family and others as they make the short journey. Yet this ritual holds me each time I have watched it, interspersed as it is with simple but moving moments such as the sailors bowing their heads when they arrive at the Abbey. 

As Catholics we are very familiar with ritual, especially that of the Mass itself. Very often it can "carry" a lot, say so much with its few actions and words.  I have noticed this is particularly true at funerals, when the very thing that Catholics fear might put off non-Catholic visitors actually can speak to, enable and help each and every mourner to feel whatever they are feeling and enter into the occasion.  I remember celebrating the funerals of my parents, where I think I was only able to do so because saying Mass is what I do every day.  I was "carried" by the ritual. The funeral of the Queen "carried" if we wanted it to, maybe our own bereavements too, and the passing not only of our monarch, but also of an era - stretching back through such a long life to the Empire, the two World Wars, and who knows whatever else the Britsih carry in our collective memory.

Perhaps this helps us to understand other ritual type prayers and practices, such as the Rosary.  The repetition of Hail Marys puts off many people. But I believe that it is this very aspect of the Rosary that enables it to carry whatever is going on in our mind, heart or life at that moment.  Each morning nowadays I experience a period of stiffness and/or pain as my lower limbs "wake up". As part of this process I pray five decades sitting on my bed, and try to put into the ritual and repetition the day ahead and whatever else is going on - stuff good and not so good - and the pain of the moment. The very ritual at the very least helps the process, and perhaps even helps to make sense of things that are too deep or painful to put into words -  just like the marching of those sailors for a quarter of an hour at Westminster.

Sunday 11 September 2022

When God Ran

A while ago I shared a video of a song based on today's Gospel - the Prodigal Son.    Here is another one, entitled "When God Ran".  This one I also heard in my Canada phase back in the 80s.   Enjoy.

Saturday 27 August 2022

We have come to Mount Zion

Here is a song to accompany my theme this Sunday. It's called "Singing Hallelujah" and is bsed on the second reading from today's Mass. I love the uplifting and inspiring visonary quality of this reading.

I came across the song in my Canada period 1986-8.  St Mary's parish where I assisted in Ottawa used some of the music of Jim Cowan in the liturgy and this is one of his. He was music diector at the Franciscan University at Steubenville Ohio for more than twenty years. I visited there for an amazing priests' retreat in 1987. Here it is sung by a choir in the Philippines.

We have come to Mount Zion...