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.