RCIA UPDATE – ZOOM STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Our RCIA team is offering weekly Stations of the Cross by ZOOM during Lent. These will now take place on Fridays at 7.00 pm.
You are welcome to join as many or as few as you like.
SICK AND RETIRED CLERGY
Traditionally, during the Season of Lent our Lenten Alms (retiral collection) is taken up in support of our Archdiocesan clergy who have retired from active ministry and those whose health is deteriorating. If you would like to support these clergy during the Season of Lent please place any donation at the Church house. Many thanks.
REST IN PEACE
Our parish community extends our sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of
Margaret Reilly (Garscadden Road)
Whose funeral Mass and Committal took place on Thursday 4th March.
– May She Rest in Peace –
SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION – PRIMARY 3
Due to the current (Covid) restrictions on public/communal worship in our Churches, we will not be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with our parish P3 schoolchildren during the month of March (8th and 15th). If it is at all possible we hope to celebrate this important Sacrament with our children before the end of the school year in June.
Fr Celestie has now returned to St Ninian’s after his holiday to Nigeria. Both he and Fr Frank are happy to be contacted at any time. We continue to celebrate our daily Mass for your intentions and hold you each dearly in our hearts and daily prayer.
PRAYER AND MISSION: LINKED
The Apostleship of Prayer, now known as the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (PWPN), has been active for over 175 years. It aims to encourage us all to pray with the Pope but also to allow our own hearts to be formed by the compassion of the Heart of Christ. That’s why, for all these years, we’ve made our daily Morning Offering to the Heart of Christ.
Pope Francis has constantly encouraged this mission, which although entrusted to the Jesuits, is a pontificial service, a ministry of the whole people of God; the Jesuits were asked to promote it and run it. This is the Church’s largest prayer group and its mission is prayer for the challenges that face humanity and the Church’s mission. The two are intertwined.
We remember that our prayer isn’t about trying to persuade God to do something that God hadn’t intended to do or hadn’t thought of until hearing our petitions. It’s much more subtle, prayerful and sacred than that. When we are very young, we might think of God in that way, as a dispenser of good things provided, we ask in the right way – but adult faith should not be like that. We don’t need to bid for God’s attention. The infinite mystery that is God is always attentive to us and to all of creation. St Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of retreats and retreat-givers, suggested that, as we grow in prayer, we will come to understand that we are beheld in the Trinity’s constant, permanent loving gaze. But that gaze requires a response from us. We call that faith.
When we engage in intercessory prayer, we are fundamentally expressing our desires to open our own hearts so that God’s will, purpose and justice might be done in us and our lives – we allow ourselves to be held in that gaze. Our adult faith gradually understands that the infinite mysterious God asks a response of us. A life of faith is one that lives that response more and more and then comes to see that all sorts of gifts that are graces, have already been given. But those gifts are always for the good of all, especially the weakest among us. That’s how we check if a gift we’ve received is genuinely from the Lord – does it help the others? Pope Francis oversaw and enthusiastically approved the ‘re-creation’ of the Apostleship of Prayer, re-launched in 2019 as his personal prayer network, a process begun during Pope Benedict’s papacy.
In these tough times, in every country, we have experienced restrictions on our prayer-spaces. Where Churches and other places of worship/prayer were able to reopen, access remained restricted while some of us are nervous about entering the building. As some people noted, the Church doors were closed but the Church was still open. Our Christian spirituality underlines and feeds our mission yet at the same time our mission shapes our spirituality, or ought to. At the world gathering of directors and co-ordinators of his personal prayer network, convened by Pope Francis in 2019 in Rome, he powerfully reminded us that ‘the heart of the Church’s mission is prayer’. Mission without prayer would not really be mission, but activism – often a good and wholesome enterprise but not always sustained by the grace we need. Prayer without mission risks looking like superstition. Let us continue to pray with the Pope as we go about our mission, linking our Christian lives to the Heart of Christ, in the Church and with the whole People of God.
Pope’s Intention (Evangelisation) Let us pray that we may experience the sacrament of reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.
God’s Mercy and Forgiveness
Pope Francis speaks of ‘experiencing the sacrament’ and that is a word worthy of a pause. What does it mean to experience something? It is more than going through the motions or a routine part of life. To experience runs deeper than that, hence his use of the phrase ‘renewed depth’. When we experience something, especially in a positive way, a change takes place and a difference is made. Experience then, is about change and being changed. If we approach the sacrament from a place where we feel we have made no mistakes, caused no offence to God or neighbour, if we are not willing to ‘relive’ some of our most difficult moments, it is difficult to see how we can be ‘relieved’ of our burdens.
The two people in the temple who Jesus once spoke of might well be a good starting point as we contemplate reconciliation. One standing at the front of the temple, reminding God about all the good he had done, fasting, paying money to the Church and the distancing himself from the sinner at the back of the Church. At the same moment, the sinner acknowledges who and what he is with the words: ‘Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner’. Jesus says that this man went home ‘at rights’ with God.
So to experience the sacrament, a few things are needed – a person who has the desire, the real and deep desire, for peace and a priest who is willing to share that moment in a way that is not judgemental. When these two meet, Jesus is there. When this meeting takes place in a spirit of wanting things to be better, better they will be. This is the ‘infinite mercy of God’ the Pope mentions. It is there, it is to be found and it is to be cherished.
The words of absolution speak about ‘pardon’ but equally about ‘peace’, in fact peace comes before absolution – ‘may he grant you pardon and peace and I absolve you….’
So, what do we bring to reconciliation? Who do we bring? We bring the reality of ourselves and our moments of weakness. We bring the prodigal son or daughter in us to a place where the Father is watching for us, even when we are still a long way off.
We seek a blessing because we have sinned, we seek absolution because we believe in it and we receive forgiveness because he is full of mercy and rejoices repeatedly in the one who ‘is found’. – Fr Vincent Sherlock, parish priest – Kilmovee, Ireland