Parish News – 8th January

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI RIP

Following the announcement of the death, aged 95, of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who served as Supreme Pontiff from April 2005 to February 2013 and whose funeral took place this past Thursday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference, said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Pope Benedict. He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century. I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met. He was through and through a gentleman, through and through a scholar, through and through a pastor, through and through a man of God – close to the Lord and always his humble servant. Pope Benedict is very much in my heart and in my prayers. I give thanks to God for his ministry and leadership.” We can all add our own “Amen” to that.

The Bishops’ Conference website contains an Obituary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and you can also watch a recording of the Funeral Mass conducted by Pope Francis. Continue reading Parish News – 8th January

Scripture notes – The Baptism of the Lord (A) – 8th January 2023

The feast days celebrating Christmas come to an end with Epiphany highlighting the Magi coming to Bethlehem. The word ‘Epiphany’ has the sense of ‘revelation’ and the story of today’s gospel show a revelation about Jesus after he has been baptised by John and will shortly after begin his public ministry. In Advent, we heard how John the Baptizer ‘prepared the way’ for one greater coming after him, and today’s Gospel brings the two together. Continue reading Scripture notes – The Baptism of the Lord (A) – 8th January 2023

Reading Matthew’s Gospel

‘The Gospel according to St Matthew’ is first in the liturgy cycle of three years, and in our copies of the New Testament, but is not the first book written – the early Letters of St Paul come before. Nor is it likely to be the first of the four gospels, now that is usually considered to be Mark. Matthew’s owes its primary place to the esteem in which it was held in the early years of Christianity. That popularity may come from this gospel laying so much stress on the teachings of Jesus, some directed to all disciples, and others for leaders and evangelists.  While much of this is clear to see in a quick check of the gospel, there is also a subtlety in the style that is not so frequently noted. Continue reading Reading Matthew’s Gospel

Some reflections on grief……

Fr Sean used these descriptions of grief from author Edgar Jackson in his holily at our annual Mass of Commemoration for those who have died in the past year on November 18th 2016:

Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone.

Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person.

Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few minutes before going about the tasks of the day. She knows that part of her is in the cemetery, just as part of her is in her daily work.

Grief is the silent, knife-like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there.

Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years.

Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying good night to the one who had died.

Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again.

I also found this thought while I was seaching for an image to accompany this post:

There is no expiry date on grief.

King of the Jews

crucifixionBlood flows like a river from your side,
Your human body was always too weak.
Yet the pain that it’s causing is agonizingly real,
Another wave every time that you speak.

Yet you do nothing.

Thorns pierce through the skin on your head,
All you hear is their mockery and threats.
Your eyelids are drooping, your head hung low,
Yet still you have no regrets.

So you do nothing.

Your arms are now aching, worse than before,
And your vision is blurred by your tears.
But you know that this suffering will come to an end,
So you cast away your worries and fears.

And you do nothing.

Below you they’re hooked by the numbers on a dice,
Gambling away your pride.
You’re left on top of a hill – entertainment for all,
And there’s nowhere to run to and hide.

Still you do nothing.

The seconds become minutes, which drag into hours,
And you long for an end to your pain.
But there’s no one to help you, no one at all,
So in the open you must remain.

You do nothing.

Your name is Jesus, King ofthe Jews,
Saviour of those who failed to save you.
And so you die, on a cross made of hate,
To be with God and unlock heaven’s gates.

By Mia Griso Dryer
April 2015

A Beginners’ Introduction to Reading the Bible

The Bible is the ‘foundation text’ for Christianity, so much so that St Jerome, an early translator and scholar, could say, ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ’. We hear selections from it at every mass, but reading and praying with scriptures on our own is meant to be is a vital part of spiritual life. Modern historical scholarship, archeology, and literary studies have made much of the Bible far more intelligible for our times than in the past, and the Church has encouraged us to make use of these aids. Yet starting to read the Bible is not always easy and people do not always know where to turn for help.

There are numerous books giving background and interpretation of the Bible, as a whole, or by sections or individual books which can be found at local Catholic bookshops or online, but the very number of these can be confusing. One simple way to start is with The Jerusalem Bible. This is the Catholic translation we hear at mass which also contains introductions to the various books and types, and footnotes on difficult passages. Continue reading A Beginners’ Introduction to Reading the Bible

On our new series of Bible notes

As we start to publish some biblical notes connected with the readings for each Sunday’s Mass, you may want to know something about the person who is preparing them – so this is a brief introduction to both my background in scripture studies and my limitations!

I have been a member of St Peter’s for over 20 years, moving to London from the USA to live with my daughter and her family. Many of you will know the four Dicksons from their involvement in the parish; until this autumn they led the music at the 11:15 Family Mass. I am a Eucharist minister, have worked with a ‘small Christian community’, the Soup Run, and have recently started writing the Bible notes for the parish RCIA group.

I have been interested in the Bible since my late teens, but for most of my life any study was done around the edges. I am still very much an ‘amateur’ – I like the meaning behind that word, literally one who does it for ‘love’ and not as a profession. But in the 80s, I was fortunate to be able to do a MA in Applied Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.  In my three years there, I took all the scripture courses I could, worked at learning the Greek in which the New Testament is written, and got a smattering of the Hebrew of the Old Testament. 

I now study at home, using various books on hand and with some access to the excellent library at Heythrop College. My basic ‘checking in’ book is the New Jerome Biblical Commentary written by a number of Catholic writers to cover every book of the bible and also including a number of topical articles on many aspects of the background to the scriptures. I use it as an encyclopedia and it is a great source to compensate for my large areas of ignorance!  With the four gospels especially, I have a variety of commentaries to compare. Only a small amount of all this, of course, will be taken up in these notes.

There are varied interpretations that fit into the overall Catholic faith, and I will at times be summarizing those of various scholars, choosing what appeals to me. So be aware that you may disagree and also expect that you will find insights on your own! I have been much enlightened, for example, with what was shared by others in our small community meetings. We could say the only ‘expert’ for you is yourself, listening to God as you reflect on the words of scripture.

Sharing background I have found useful will, I hope, help others who do not have time to do the research. My basic aim is to make the scriptures used at Mass easier to understand, and to open them out for readers and listeners to find how God speaks to them through the words of the inspired writers. 

Questions and feedback will be welcome, as this starts as an experiment. My hope is that all of us through the Mass and the scripture will draw ever closer to the Father, Son and Spirit who reveal themselves in human words.

Joan Griffith