Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Eaglet has landed!

The latest edition of our fantastic parish magazine is all done and ready to read. Marilyn's editorial is excellent, do give it a good read! You can pick up your copy from the back of the church, by clicking here or by clicking on the picture below.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine...

The march from the Carfax after the service.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

I was fortunate enough to be able to be a part of the Remembrance Sunday service in the Carfax this Sunday morning. I am very glad to say that the place was packed (you could barely move!) and as we prayed for the dead from all conflicts there was a deep sense of reverence in the atmosphere. Even if we have never known a person who has served or died in a war (although I'm sure that most of us probably have) it is important to remember them, to keep the knowledge of what war is and what war does and what war costs (in terms of the lives of servicemen and women) fresh in our minds. The sacrifices of our armed forces must never be played down or forgotten, what they underwent for our sake is too important to be put to one side. Wearing a poppy is a simple but powerful sign that they still have a place within our hearts, that they mean a great deal to us. But is it enough to simply keep the two minute silence? Should we not do more for those who fought to keep our country and its people free and safe from harm?

Just as May and October take on special significance for us as Catholics in being dedicated to the Blessed Virgin during November we remember all those who have died. On the first we celebrate the saints in heaven and on the second we look to those souls still undergoing their purification in purgatory. These feasts remind us that not only can we rely on those who form the Church Triumphant to intercede for us daily with God (CCC 956) but that our loved ones who have died can still benefit from our prayers here and now. Our penances and sacrifices, however small, our prayers and daily devotions, still make a big difference and we are encouraged, this month in particular, to take this more seriously and to pray more regularly that the people in purgatory will come into the light of God's presence in heaven.

So why not, this November add to the wearing of the poppy, add to the two minute silence, add to the commemoration by saying a prayer each day for the souls of everyone who died in war. It can be something small, like a Hail Mary or, if you have time, perhaps the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The lighting of a candle is a powerful prayer too. In the martyrs chapel for the whole of this month we also have a book where everyone can write the names of people they'd like to be remembered in the Mass, why not add a name? Our prayers never go unheard and are never fruitless. Even if we cannot see their effects right now we can trust in God that they have indeed helped someone.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

St. John's talent night

Last night was certainly a giggle as some of us gathered together in the hall for the talent night organised by the lovely Jill Smith. She, along with two others, kicked off the singing with their newly formed group, Angel Delight, giving everyone else enough time to work up the courage to get on stage and sing themselves. But, I'm pleased to say, after a little encouragement, quite a few people did go up or took to the dance floor!

Great fun was definitely had by all and a huge thank you to Jill and everyone else who helped organise it. The event raised £316.00 with the proceeds being split evenly between Aila's Fund and the refurbishment appeal.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

St. Wilfrid, pray for us

Another stage of the refurbishment of our lovely church is now complete. Today the new glass went into the Confessional so it is now ready to be used. Huzzah! It will certainly be wonderful after the last few months having to use various parts of the Church as a substitute. For those of you who haven't seen it yet here's afew pics I snapped earlier today...

 The statue of St. Wilfrid used to be in the sacristy but it seems fitting that he, known as the 'apostle of Sussex', should be on display in the Church itself.

The text on the glass (which you can just about see here) reads, "Saint Wilfrid, Pray for us." The glass has been specially made so that you can see in (to ensure the safety of the penitent and the priest) but can't make out what the person is saying. Another new feature is that whilst there are still two doors there won't now be any confusion about who's in where. The interior has been re-jigged so that the penitent enters through the first door (nearest the back of the church) and has the option to either kneel behind the grille or sit on a seat, facing the priest through a hole in the wall. Rest assured though if you, like me, prefer anonymity when going to Confession the priest will not be able to see who's coming in unless they sit on the seat.

The seat is by the statue of St. Wilfrid
One of the things I always thought would be difficult for me once I became a Catholic was going to Confession. The media tend to hype it up something rotten and paint a rather ridiculous picture when the truth, in fact, is far more gentle and beautiful and it has fast become my favourite sacrament (after the Eucharist, of course). And why not? In this we come before God, acutely aware of our sin and our need of his mercy and forgiveness, we come to the foot of the cross and ask for his forgiveness and place all of our hope and confidence in his love. Fr. Aaron spoke powerfully about this back in March, you can read his excellent thoughts here. In the absolution we are assured that we have been washed clean of our sin and can start afresh. It is a beautiful and humbling encounter with God, something that helps us to stay on the right track with our lives ever focused on Jesus. The prayers and advice of the priest aid us too in avoiding sin again. Since we now have our shiny good-as-new confessional why not come and try it out? It doesn't matter how long it has been (the priest will guide you through if you've forgotten what to do or say), God will welcome you with open arms! Confessions are available in the church after Mass on Friday and Saturday mornings and from 5:15pm to 5:45pm on Saturday evening or by appointment. You really won't regret going!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Something new for young adults...

Horsham is a very warm, welcoming and enthusiastic parish with all sorts of groups and programmes going on here there and everywhere. One thing that has been noticed, however, is that there is nothing specifically tailored for young adults living, studying and working in Horsham and the surrounding area. It can be extremely hard in our modern, materialistic and secular world to stand up and be counted as a Christian, our society does not cultivate faith in God but encourages a person to think only of themselves and their own individual desires with no regard for the needs of our neigbour. It can also be...awkward if friends and colleagues ask questions about our Catholic faith to which we may not have an immediate answer or they make assumptions about who and what we are, what we profess and what we do. Sometimes it is nice to simply sit down and chat socially with someone who gets what we mean when we say we've been to Mass, who we can talk about our beliefs to and share in the joy of being a Christian in the 21st century. As a result Tom Kent and I are starting a dedicated Young Adults group here in the parish. Our plan to begin with is to keep things nice and low-key, we all go to the 6:30pm Mass on Sunday and then head over to a local pub for a drink (or two). If you or someone you know might be interested then please do give them a copy of the flyer below (which can also be downloaded here.)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Prayers for the priesthood

Last weekend we were given the sad announcement that at the end of next month Fr. Aaron will be leaving Horsham after only 14 months in the parish. As both he and Fr. Richard said at all of the Sunday Masses Bishop Kieran did not do this lightly and another priest is urgently needed in Redhill which is made up of three parishes and also covers East Surrey Hospital. Fr. Aaron has been a fantastic and invaluable part of the clergy team here in Horsham, a great support to many and he will, I'm sure, be sorely missed.

As hard as it is when priests are moved on a situation like this highlights how much we need to pray for vocations to the priesthood. It is easy to think that someone else is doing it or to look at young men like Tom and think that there are plenty of people responding to this calling. The fact is that we do urgently need more priests. The Mass and the sacraments are an essential part of our lives as Catholics, they bring us into an ever deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ, give us a foretaste of heaven and help us to centre ourselves on God and God alone. As Christians we should all be actively trying to discern what God is asking us to do each day, what his will is for us each day. Just as every Catholic woman should take the time and space to open herself up to God and see if he is calling her to some special vocation (like the religious or consecrated for example) so should every young man see if he is called to serve God and the Church as a priest. We have been very blessed in this parish to have such easy access to the sacraments for so long but in so many places in this diocese and around the world this is simply not the case. Why not commit to praying once a day for vocations to the priesthood as well as praying for our seminarians, our priests and our bishop too. Prayer always works, prayer always helps...even if we don't see the result with our own eyes.

Prayer for Vocations

Father of all,
in the  name of Jesus Christ
who came not to be served but to serve,
grant us the grace of many new vocations
to the priesthood in our diocese.
Give us men after your own heart who,
following the example of the Good Shepherd,
are willing to joyfully lay down their lives
in your service and for your glory.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our Father.  Hail Mary.  Glory be.

Holy Mary, our hope, pray for us.
St Philip Howard, pray for us.
St John Vianney, pray for us.
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

For more information on the priesthood visit the vocations blog by clicking here, the vocations website here, or Facebook page here.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A taste of Spain and Latin America

Last Friday, despite the cold and gloomy weather outside, the atmosphere was warm and exotic in St. John's Hall as we were all regaled with music by our parish's very own Spanish & Latin American music group. We first enjoyed various dishes (kindly prepared by parishioners) and a few glasses of wine before the main event began. Here's a few pics snapped by various people from the night itself;

We raised £380.00 in total which will go towards the refurbishment of the Church. I have had so much positive feedback about this evening we may have to do it again! Thank you to everyone who came, to everyone who helped and, most especially, to Brian, Lynne, Amy, Shaun & Suzanne (Zee) McDonogh, Miguel Bravo, Haydee Fernie, Henry & Carolina Gonzalez, Irek (Tom) Tomaszewski for playing so brilliantly!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Youth Cafe

This autumn term we relaunched Youth Cafe for the children of secondary school age in the parish with a new format and fresh ideas and input. We've had two session so far and, from what I can tell at least, they've gone rather well!

This week, in keeping with October being one of the months dedicated to our Lady, we focused on the rosary in particular. To get the kids thinking about what this invaluable prayer is and is for we got them to make a giant one out of card on the floor of the hall. After (briefly) explaining that this prayer can be used for anything from emergency cries for help, prayers for the recovery of ailing friends and relatives, to asking our Blessed Mother's prayers after a bad day we got them to split into small groups and write on each Hail Mary bead someone or something they'd like to pray for. I'm very pleased to say they all responded really well to this and carefully considered what they should write on each one. And here's what they made! (By the way there were more of them, but most were camera shy.) These prayers we offered up in the Church with Fr. Richard after some much deserved pizza.

Next time (October 19th) we will be looking at St. Philip Howard whose feast day it will be. If you or your son or daughter is of secondary school age why not encourage them to come along? It runs once a fortnight from 7pm to 8:45pm (any alterations in the newsletter). We'd love to see them!

Our Lady of the Rosary

Traditionally October is one of the two months dedicated to Our Lady (along with May) and this one has a specific emphasis on the rosary. This is one of the few prayers that people from a secular or different religious background know that we pray although they don't always seem to know why or have a true understanding of what it even is. Some see the rosary as simply a thing, just a little string of beads which can be plain and plastic or ornate and made of precious metals and adorned with semi-precious stones. On one level that is, of course, correct; physically the rosary is just a little string of beads. But is that all there is to it? Is it simply an ornament of our faith, something we aimlessly carry around in our pocket or wear as jewellery?

Fra Angelico's Annunciation
What makes the rosary so appealing to us as Catholics is that there is so much beauty and depth in it that you can pray it for years and only partially enter into it. Each day we are given five different mysteries to contemplate, five different episodes from the life of our Lord and our Lady which open up to us the magnitude of God's love for us, what he has done for each of us and how he wants us to respond to him. Even though we have heard those passages from Scripture time and time again we get very little opportunity in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives to really let their message sink in, to take a few minutes to ponder what they mean (and what they mean for us as individuals; what is God asking of me today?) and in the rosary we are invited to do just that. In between our home and work life this may be the one time we get to really open ourselves up to God in this way and it is certainly never wasted.

And of course the real beauty in the rosary comes from whom we are praying with; the Blessed Virgin herself. At the annunciation she gave her soul-felt "yes!" which she meant not only then but continues to live on, her whole life and prayers are poured out in the service of God, she says "yes!" to him again and again as she, with motherly care, intercedes for us here on earth. And why would we not want her help? Who knew Jesus better than his mother? Who better is there to lead us into a greater understanding of who Christ is than the woman who carried him in her womb, who nursed him and watched him grow, followed him with the deepest humility and devotion, and stood by as he was nailed to the cross to reconcile us to the Father? And even though we may say 53 Hail Mary's in each rosary she takes no praise or glory for herself but offers our prayers to God.

If it were not a Sunday today would be the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. But even so, why not say one today yourself? And why not make the effort to make this October a special month of prayer with our Lady? There is a rosary being said at St. John's at 6pm this evening or there are the regular times on Fridays (after 10am Mass) and Saturdays (before 10am Mass).

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Singing the Night away

The Pleasure Singers
Last Thursday we were regaled with song by two fabulous choirs; The Pleasure Singers and the Rowland Singers. Although dark and damp and dreary outside with the typically British weather the atmosphere in the Church was fantastic! They raised over £300 and in the end all of the proceeds went to Aila's Fund.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Francesco De Antonis

Today is the 90th birthday of the great and good Francesco De Antonis

We wish Francesco many happy returns of the day.

The 10am Mass of Our Lady of Walsingham is offered for Francesco and afterwards we are invited to coffee and birthday cake in the hall.

Preparation for the Sacraments

The children preparing for the sacraments of reconciliation and First Holy Communion began their preparation yesterday.
At a packed 11am Mass they received their Missals. We pondered the gospel. Brothers argue about all sorts of things, not least who is the greatest! In Our Lord Jesus Christ we find our true greatness, our greatness is found in Him and in the grace of the sacraments. The beautiful truths of the life of grace will become more deeply rooted in the lives of these children. Please pray for the 36 children in the parish preparing for the sacraments.
After Mass parents, children, catechists and clergy had lunch together. It was a lovely beginning.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Youth Cafe

Youth Cafe begins again tonight. It's the Feast of St Matthew so we are taking the opportunity to look at Scripture and St Matthew's Gospel especially. Weclome back all, and a warm welcome to all newcomers. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Meeting Christ in the Eucharist

Today at the 9am and 11am we saw, once again, the children who received Holy Communion for the first time earlier in the summer for their 'Going Forth' Mass. It was really wonderful to see them all there, dressed up in their little white dresses and smart suits, receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist so reverently and then to have Fr. Richard give each of them a certificate reminding them of this day as well as a book written by Pope Benedict XVI in which he reflects on his memories of receiving Holy Communion for the first time.

As adults we can easily forget the initial excitement and anticipation of receiving the Eucharist for the first time, as time goes by we accept it as a regular part of our lives as Catholics and, sometimes, fall into the trap of taking it for granted. But when we see these children going forward each year it is not only an invitation for them to enter more deeply into a relationship with Jesus but also for us, an opportunity for us to reflect on what this gift of God, his very Body and Blood, is and what it means that he is prepared to come and meet us in this way and not only be with us but be one with us and we one with him.

Here's a lovely little excerpt from the book Pope Benedict wrote. Perhaps we all might find it helpful when we struggle to see the Eucharist through the eyes of a child and the eyes of faith.

"Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it. The day of my First Holy Communion was one of the most beautiful days of my life. It is the same for you, isn’t it? And why is that? It’s not only because of our nice clothes or the gifts we receive, nor even because of the parties! It is above all because, that day, we receive Jesus Christ for the first time! When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I should welcome him with love and listen closely to him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell him, for example: “Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.” Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure whom you should share generously. Throughout the history of the Church, the love of Jesus has filled countless Christians, and even young people like yourselves, with courage and strength. In this way, Saint Kizito, a Ugandan boy, was put to death because he wanted to live according to the baptism which he had just received. Kizito prayed. He realized that God is not only important, but that he is everything."

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

And finally the finished Church!

Sorry it has taken so long to get these pictures uploaded and you have all now seen the result of the eight weeks labour whilst the Church was closed, but here they are nonetheless!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Late have I loved you...

Yesterday we celebrated the memorial of St. Monica and today we remember and venerate her son; St. Augustine of Hippo. Despite many people's view of saints Augustine, like so many others, wasn't born holy, although his mother, by all accounts, was a very devout woman and a good example of what a Christian wife and mother should be. He received a Christian education as a small child but as he grew older he drifted away from the Church and, whilst studying in Carthage, fell into a downward spiral; he associated with what we might describe as "the wrong crowd", had numerous affairs (including one which lasted 13 years and through which he had a son) and became heavily involved with the Manichaean religion. Despite his abrupt loss of morals his mother did what all mums do, worried greatly and prayed constantly for her son's conversion. And, despite many years of darkness, her prayers did bear fruit and he was eventually received back into the Church. After having so long embraced a life of excess he went and sold all of his possessions, giving the proceeds to the poor and lived simply. He was later ordained a priest and became Bishop of Hippo. St. Augustine is best known for his written works, which if you haven't read you really must. They give us a great insight into the heart and mind of a man who has given himself over totally to God and discovered him in a deeply intimate way, they give us a tantalising glimpse of what it is to have such a personal glimpse of God and make us hunger for the same. At Mass this morning Fr. Richard read a short passage from Augustine's Confessions (it is part of a longer piece which was included in this today's Office of Readings) which I think beautifully highlights this so I have pasted it below.

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you.  Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hot off the press!

The new edition of the Eaglet is ready. You can either pick up your copy from the hall or download it by clicking here or on the image below. Enjoy!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Some sneaky pics from inside the Church

On Saturday last I popped into the Church briefly to see how it was looking. I hadn't been in for a couple of weeks and was pleasantly surprised at the progress that had been made! Have a look for yourselves...

I'm guessing that's not a permanent feature lol

Panelling looks good with the old varnish stripped

Caution! Men at work! ;-)

Lady chapel's coming along nicely

The doors painted a lighter colour really
brightens up the main body of the church

The view from above...

Lighting fixtures are starting to go up

The infamous cobweb is gone!!

So all in all everything's going smoothly and according to plan. Can't wait to see it when tis all done!