June 17th 2018


  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection
  5. Sunday Thoughts: June 2018

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading
A reading from the prophet Ezekiel (17:22-24)

The Lord says this: 'From the top of the cedar, from the highest branch I will take a shoot and plant it myself on a very high mountain. I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel. It will sprout branches and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Every kind of bird will live beneath it, every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches. And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow, who withers green trees and makes the withered green. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.'

Second Reading
A reading from the Second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (5:6-10)

We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight - we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad

Gospel Reading
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (4:26-34)

Jesus said to the crowds, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.'

He also said, 'What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.'

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Sunday Reflection 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (17.06.18)

Spiritual Horticulture

We associate the month of June with summer. After a lengthy hibernation in winter, Spring's promise is hopefully made good in June and the following months. Nature's regeneration has much to teach us about the wonders of our God as the Creator of all that is. 'Creator' here implying his being the 'first mover', the instigator.

This Sunday's First Reading is taken from Ezekiel (17:22-24) This visionary prophet was born about 622 BC. His life covered the years when his people were slaves and in exile in Babylon as a result of their disobeying God's Covenant. In today's extract Ezekiel is engendering hope as he visualises God as a skilled horticulturalist taking care of his creation. God, in addition to causing us to exist, calls us to be his collaborators in caring, on his behalf, for all the constituent parts of our world.

Ezekiel visualises the time when God will take a fertile and authentic remnant of his Chosen People out of Babylon and out of servitude, restoring them to lofty Jerusalem, his place of dwelling:
"I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom."

Though Ezekiel we, too, can visualize God's longing to bring a redeemed humanity to heaven.

Just two years after he was elected Pope, Francis issued in 2015 his Encyclical Letter 'Laudato Si' on the care we are to exercise for our common home, the planet on which we live. The Pope's choice of 'Laudato Si' comes from the canticle of St. Francis of Assisi - 'praise to you, my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.'(From 'Canticle of the Creatures' Francis of Assisi Early Documents Val.1) If you have not yet read 'Laudato Si' the summer months are an ideal setting for doing so and it is only 180 pages. This Encyclical can be downloaded for free from the Vatican website.

As every horticulturalist, amateur or professional, knows the transplanting of cuttings, to be successful, needs both skill and care. Today, there are countless sources of advice for gardeners with just window boxes or actual gardens. The popularity of TV and radio gardening programmes - not to mention Chelsea and all local flower shows - points to a very substantial segment of the population with no small interest in gardening.

Spiritual Directors - perhaps the word 'Guide' would be better - are 'horticulturalists' of the soul. Their gift of discernment can contribute substantially to another's spiritual wellbeing. Just as we choose advice from people whose skill we trust and value, so, choosing a spiritual director is searching for a compatible person, not necessarily a priest, with their feet firmly on the ground and their trust firmly in God. They would be a person of prayer as opposed to someone who says lots of prayers, if you see what I mean. Their skill in 'guiding' should lead you to identify the choices before you; enable you to be aware of whatever support there is that helps you investigate and weigh the choice or choices; while leaving you entirely free to make that choice or those choices.

Pope Francis, in 'Laudato Si', is offering humanity guidance for the replenishment of our depleted planet and world along with the information that enables thinking people to make the right choices for the coming generations. He is reminding us that this is not our world, but God's world. We are merely the custodians.

Some may fear the task too great for them. Which is why Jesus, in the extract from St. Mark's Gospel for this Sunday (4:26-34), takes the example of a mustard seed. It's such a tiny seed -insignificant in size - and yet, properly nurtured, it provides when fully grown safe and secure habitat for countless other creatures.

St. Therese of Lisieux used to say:
'Therese and sixpence can do very little, but Therese, sixpence and God can do anything'

Within each of us, Jesus says, is the seed of God's creative love. It is unquenchable even in the most adverse of conditions. It can be threatened only by, us as its host, when we lessen or lose our communion with the Holy Spirit. This seed needs the constant nourishment of each individual's will to live in communion with the Holy Spirit. When a person's communion with the Divine is lessened or, worse, interrupted, not only is growth held in check but the seed of God's creative love can suffer loss.

There is an incalculable number of Baptised people, in the UK for example, within whom development of the seed of God's creative love appears to have faltered perhaps having been thwarted by the Evil One. The exemplification of such a statement is evidenced by multiple examples of present day society's now accepted behaviour. Prime among such is (direct) abortion on demand and euthanasia, not to mention the failure to respect the dignity of our fellow human beings.

The UK is one country, among many, where dysfunctionality within the Christian community has resulted in a marked falling away of belief and practice among Christians. This has resulted in the rise of Secularism and its being accorded an equal status with religion. It is a lamentable situation for nations whose people were renowned for their Christian faith.

Each Baptised person, irrespective of nationality, gender, status or physical capacity, is gifted with the ability and vocation to become a lifesaver on a daily basis. Baptised people do not determine when and where to exercise their vocational calling but respond to the prompts of the Divine with willingness, even when the task appears impossible. The history of Christianity in these islands overflows with the lives of women, men and children who were loyal to Christ even to the point of foregoing their lives.

On a balmy June evening in a garden or in the countryside as you hear and see the myriad expressions of God, reflect - have I enabled or restricted the faith growth of people whose lives I have encountered recently? The flora and fauna of our portion of the planet prompts many a thought beyond the scope of horticulture.

Sunday thoughts: June 2018

By Monsignor John Devine

'There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.' These words of Albert Einstein come to mind when considering Catholic belief in the Eucharist. The phrase hocus pocus mimics the Latin words of consecration, 'Hoc est enim corpus meum', likening them to a conjuring trick. But the greater miracle of the Mass is not merely that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ but that the whole world, ourselves included, is the Body of Christ. Corpus Christi knows no boundaries. That's the real miracle.

It was when studying in the seminary that Father John Gaine - our philosophy professor, who retired only recently as parish priest at St Teresa's, Southport - introduced me to the work of the French Jesuit philosopher and palaeontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured). I became a Teilhard fan and still treasure copies of his writings.

On a scientific expedition Teilhard found himself unable to celebrate Mass. He said: 'Since I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar I will raise myself beyond these symbols ... I will make the whole earth my altar and on it offer all the labours and sufferings of the world.'

He continued: 'When through the mouth of the priest he says, "This is my body", these words extend beyond the morsel of bread over which they are said: they give birth to the whole mystical body of Christ. The effect of the priestly act extends beyond the consecrated host to the cosmos itself ... the entire realm of matter is slowly but irresistibly affected by this great act of consecration.'

(The Mass on the World, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin S.J.)