Camino de Santiago

Starting at the August bank holiday I have been allowed to take a two month sabbatical to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The Camino is an old pilgrimage route that leads to the tomb of the apostle St James. In the 1980’s this pilgrimage/walk started to become popular again and now thousands of people walk it each year. The walk starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France and proceeds westward for 800km to Santiago De Compostela. The route is marked with clam shells to show pilgrims the way, the clam shell has been the sign of the pilgrim since the middle ages. I’ll be walking 20-30km a day for 6 weeks, carrying everything I need for the journey.
There are plenty of ‘Albergues’ (hostels) along the way so I won’t have to carry a tent, there are also plenty of place to find food so wont be carrying to much of that but it’ll still be close to a 10kg pack, some of you may have seen me practicing with it while walking in most days now.

This is a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful to Applicable (the company I work for) for allowing me the time. How often in our modern lives do we get the chance to just do one thing for a prolonged period of time. Six weeks of putting one foot in front of another, a chance to relax, think and pray. I am really not sure what to expect apart from sore feet and that experience of doing something so different is really exciting. I intend to keep this blog going while I am away in case any of you want to know where I am or what I am doing.

If you want to see where I am you can also follow my progress at 

Homily Pentecost - Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life

Homily (Sermon) – Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

The Readings for Pentecost:
Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 103
1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23

[ All these readings can be found at for the next few weeks. Remember to scroll down for the readings of the day.]

Today we celebrate Pentecost the giving of the Holy Spirit, as power as tongues of fire, as gentle as Christ’s breath. A gift for the disciples and every Christian who has followed in their footstep, A gift to everyone here. As with any gift you have to decide what to do with it. You have received this gift from God. Have you put it to good use or have you left it unused at the back of the proverbial wardrobe.

When I was in formation for the deaconate, we spent a weekend away in Salisbury studying Canon Law. That weekend I remember Gail, my wife, wasn’t able to come with me and I was feeling a little lonely. The subject though necessary wasn’t inspiring me and all the questions about whether I was really called to the deaconate were running round my head.

On Saturday night we met in the chapel, a beautiful room on the top floor of the building we were staying in. David who was in his last year of formation was leading prayers that evening, he greeted us with the following words, “I thought you would like to know that as we gather together on this Pentecost evening, we are gathering in an upstairs room, and there are 12 men and their wives.”

It was a simple moment but a profound one for me. That was one of the moment’s in my life when I physically experienced the touch of the Holy Spirit. My questions and my prayers about my calling received an answer. “Yes, you are called, follow me.”

At Pentecost Christ gave the apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit, you have that same gift, I have that same gift. Our difficultly is often working out what we are called to do with it. Pope Francis wants us to be a people of the risen Christ, filled with love and joy. A people ready to embrace and care for the world. A people to take Christ’s message to the world. You are called to do just that.

We can learn a lot from the Jewish traditions that, that the first Easter and Pentecost, were part of. The saving act of Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter was at the time of Passover, the celebration of God saving the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. Christ completed that act by saving everyone from sin and death.

There are 7 weeks, 50 days, between Easter and Pentecost. There are seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, the Jewish festival of weeks. During this time the Jewish people studied the Law of Moses, the Law given to them by God to guide them and protect them. At the end of the seven weeks they celebrated Shavuot, the celebration of God giving them the Law on Mount Sinai. We celebrate Easter for 50 days, we live and study with the risen Christ, we prepare for our sending into the world as the disciples were sent on the Pentecost morning.

One tradition of Shavuot is that men would gather together to study the law all night without sleep. It was also a festival of pilgrimage when people would journey to Jerusalem. You can start to see the background of the Pentecost readings we know so well. As the disciples gathered together after all that had happen, years of travelling, preaching and miracles with Jesus, His death, His resurrection, His ascension. They reflected on his teaching, the Law, their calling, what they were going to do next. In the midst of this Christ appeared and gave them the Holy Spirit. The gift given to every Christian. The gift that enables us to work for Christ, to work as Christ in today’s world.

They poured onto the streets and started their work immediately. All who heard them heard them understood them. That’s a message for us today, we have to speak in a way that will be understood. One of my favourite quotes is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel everyday and when necessary use words.” Being understood isn’t really about language. If you want to teach those close to you about love, then love them. If you want to teach about joy, then be joyful. If you want to teach about charity then give, if you want to teach about peace then be a peacemaker, if you want to teach about Christ then be Christ, be a Christian.

I ask you today, not to pray for the Holy Spirit to come, because He is always with you, but to pray for the strength to go out into the world with the Holy Spirit. God is calling you, Christ is sending you, the Holy Spirit is with you. Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

Homily Index

Symbolism of Vestment Colors in the Roman Catholic Church (Guest post)

I would like to thank Marilyn Nash and Holyart for their support and writing this post for the blog.

Symbolism of Vestment Colors in the Roman Catholic Church

The Liturgical Year

Within the Catholic Church, the liturgical year is made up of seasons, each representing a different time in the life of Jesus. Priests wear specific colors to correspond with each season. The colors of these vestments are symbolic to the season they represent. Within each season, a feast day, or solemnity, may be celebrated and in this case, the color of the priest’s vestment may be other than that of the season.

Liturgical Seasons and the Colors Representing them:

Advent: Advent is the time when we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. During Advent, the outer most vestments, known as chasubles, are purple. Purple is a royal color and is worn to symbolize the dominion of Our Lord. In some churches, deep blue is favored because it is the color of the night sky and symbolizes Jesus who is sometimes called “Dayspring” or source of day. Another reason for choosing deep blue is to distinguish it from the season of Lent when purple is also worn. On the third Sunday in Advent, priests wear a pink or rose vestment. This Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday and is a day of particular joy as while we await the birth of Our Lord, we celebrate His presence in our lives.

Christmas: This is the season when we celebrate the Nativity; Jesus’ embodiment into the physical world. During the Christmas season, white and/or gold are the colors worn. White is symbolic of purity and new life while gold represents the light of day. The Christmas Season continues until Epiphany.

Ordinary Time: The season following Epiphany is Ordinary Time. It is a season when we neither feast nor fast. This season focuses upon the faith that Jesus lives among us and the expectation of the His Second Coming. Because it is symbolic of life and growth, green is the color worn during Ordinary Time.

Lent: Lent is a six week (40 day) period of atonement in preparation for Easter. It parallels the forty-day temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Lent is a time for fasting, prayer, works of mercy and self-examination. Violet is associated with repentance from sin and is the Lenten color.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and follows Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Red is symbolic of blood, suffering, and martyrs and is the color worn through Holy Week which ends on Holy Thursday when the Sacred Paschal Triduum begins.

The Sacred Paschal Triduum is made up of the "Three Holiest Days" of the Church's year when the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus is recalled. On Holy Thursday, the church rejoices in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. White or gold is symbolic of rejoicing and are worn on this night.
When the Holy Thursday celebration has ended, the church is stripped of all adornments, altar clothes are removed and the Tabernacle is empty. We come to Good Friday when the color worn may be red or black.

On Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil is celebrated. New members enter into the Church through Baptism and together, the congregation renews its Baptismal vows. On this joyous night, white or gold is worn.

Easter: The color worn through the Easter Season is white or gold to represent its joyful observance. This season closes with Pentecost when Jesus sends forth the Holy Spirit. Red is worn for Pentecost to symbolize the fire of the Holy Spirit.

The first Sunday after Pentecost celebrates the Trinity, when the color, once again, is White or Gold.

Ordinary Time: This is the longest season of the Liturgical Year. It is a continuation of the time that began on the Sunday after Epiphany. Its color is green, symbolizing growth.

Other Observances: 
White or gold; All Saints Day, Holy Name of Jesus, Baptism, the Presentation, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Ascension, and the Transfiguration
Red is the color used for feast days of martyrs.
Blue is worn for Marian feast days.
White, and occasionally black are the colors worn for funerals.

Deacons, like priests, wear an alb. Albs are white because they symbolize the purity of the soul. Deacons wear a stole which is placed over their left shoulder and falls across their right side. The color of a deacon’s stole corresponds to the color of the Priest’s vestment.

Marilyn Nash

Homily 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – Giving

Homily (Sermon) - Giving

The Readings for Sunday 11th November 2012  or Thirty Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 145:6-10
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44
[These readings can be found at for the next few weeks.]

Today our scripture talks about giving, and not just giving but giving till it hurts. Sacrificial giving, giving that is a sacrifice.

In the old testament reading a widow, living in the middle of a famine, with a son to feed gives Elijah a scone of bread made from her last handful of flour. That must have taken most of the flour make, at least half of everything she had.

In our gospel reading we hear the well known story of the widows’ mite. The widow, quietly and almost ashamedly, drops to small coins into the temple treasury. The coins she dropped in were worth the smallest of value. But even though the value of the coins is small, it was all she had. It was her only chance of a meal that she gave.

If you think back a few weeks, can you see the contrast between these two poor widows and the rich man who approached Jesus and asked what he must do for eternal life.  Christ told him to give everything away, and he couldn't do it. The two widows, we hear about today however, can and do. They freely give all they have, and open their lives up to the mercy of God.

Christ, when he sees what the widow in the temple has done, has to tell his disciples. The example is to wonderful not to be passed on. Christ compares her to the people giving lots, those who can afford to give, those who give what they have spare.

I am left wondering what happened to that widow, I am sure that at the end of her life she met Christ in heaven. With a great grin on his face He looked at her and said, “I watched you on the day in the temple, when gave your last two coins, I was so proud of you.” But I also wonder what her life was like after taking that step, that step of trust, of faith, the step to give everything to God. To hold on to nothing and put your life in His hands. We all have this opportunity but so few of us take it.

This weeks teaching is challenging. This week we are given examples of people who gave, who gave not the spare and surplus in their life, but gave what the needed, what they relied upon. What do you currently give? I don’t mean what do you drop in the collection plate, I mean everything, what do you give of you time, your possessions, your wealth, your love, your knowledge, you experience. What do you give?

I know you are giving an hour or two today in worship. You are here to love, worship our Lord and to meet Him in the holy Eucharist. What else do you do? What else do you give? Think about it? Today’s scripture should do two things, it should challenge you to give more and it should make you reflect on what you do give.

In some way your giving should hurt, it should inconvenience you, it should be difficult. It should be something that if Christ was watching, and I promise you He is, that he would be proud of.

There is also today another example of giving for us to remember. Today is Armistice, the 100th Armistice, the day we remember those who gave their lives in war for us, for their friends and families. The men and women we remember today, gave everything. They gave their life. Their is nothing more that can be given in this life, than this life itself. We are so lucky today, here in this country, to live in a world that can barely imaging the horror of the war. We can see news reports and watch war films and study history, but few of us know war.  I certainly don’t, and I am grateful that I don’t, I am grateful to those who gave everything.

You are challenged to give, to give of yourself, your time, your possessions, your wealth, your love, your knowledge, your experience, your life. Your God asks you this, and as an example He has already given His life, just for you. When you meet Him in heaven as I know you will, what gift will he be referencing to when He tell you, “I saw you give, I was so proud.”

Homily Index

St Thomas and Doubt

This homily is from 6 years ago.Just working out what I am going to say this Sunday.
God Bless,

Homily – 2012 Year B – 2nd Sunday Easter
First Act4-32-35
Psalm Psalm 117
New 1 John 5:1-6
Gospel John 20:19-31
I am sure you don't want a half hour homily from me today, but with so much to talk about just from today's Gospel reading I could easily talk for 30 minutes or considerably longer. You will, I am sure, be pleased to know that this will be a normal length homily because I am not going to talk about Jesus breathing the holy spirit into the disciples, I am not going to talk about the institution of confession and the forgiveness of sins. I am not going to talk about Jesus sending out the disciples to continue His work, as He himself had been sent. I am not going to talk about why these were probably the original last words of John's Gospel, and that chapter 21 was added later. If you want to know about those things ask me after Mass, or drop me an email.
Who I want to talk to you about today is a hero and role model of mine, “doubting” Thomas. St. Thomas is remembered for his lack of faith, for doubting the resurrection. In some way you are left feeling that Thomas wasn't as strong as the other disciples, that his faith was weak. But while I think we can learn something from Thomas' mistakes his doubt was not a mistake but something we all have and was one of Thomas' strengths.
Thomas was a brave and faithful servant. He was the disciple that believed if Jesus went to Jerusalem he would be killed, but he went with him anyway. John tells us just before they headed to Jerusalem that Thomas said “Let us go too, and die with him.”John 11:16 Thomas expected to die with Jesus, when he didn't he must have been left lost and confused. I see something quite human in Thomas, a strong man able to do things himself, able to make up his own mind on matters, not often needing or even knowing how to accept help from others. Also, from the fact that he wasn't in the room with the other disciples, we might guess that Thomas preferred to be alone to work through his grief and confusion. This I think was Thomas' only mistake, he left the fellowship of the church just when he needed it, and as a result he missed something very special. He missed Christ's first visit.
By missing that visit, Thomas has to take the word of his friends as proof of the resurrection, and he struggles to do this. It is this struggle we hear of today, and it's this struggle we all go through from time to time. Thomas lets us know it's all right to ask questions, to think about our faith, and when we doubt to challenge.
It is difficult to have faith in today's world. It's a busy complex world where information conflicts and experts disagree. We see so much of the world on a thousand TV channels and a billion internet sites but we witness so little of it first hand, it's difficult to know what to believe. Atheism is establishing itself as a religion, strong belief in the absence of God, no room for doubt, no room for questions about the unknown. To survive in today's world we have to question and challenge, it's good to doubt the facts, it's good to ask questions so we can make our own minds up.
Even here in this church, how strong is your faith, what do you really believe. In a few moments when we all say the creed together will you be confidently affirming your faith, strong in the knowledge that you understand and wholeheartedly believe ever word you say. Or will you be concentrating on getting the knew words right, just reading what is on the card in front of you?
The church, Our Church, is a great teacher, a great communicator. We, as that church, are called to spread the good news, the Easter joy of resurrection. Are you ready to do that, is your faith strong enough? Or do you have doubts? Doubts are OK if you take Thomas as your example, your guide, your mentor.
Follow his example, if you don't understand, if you can't believe something just because someone says so, then ask questions. But also look to what happened when Thomas got his answers. When he believed his first words were “My Lord and my God”. With that strength of belief Thomas served Christ for the rest of his days, non-scriptural texts of the time trace Thomas' mission to India and the building of Christ’s kingdom there among both kings and poor alike.
I started by telling you what I could have talked about but didn't and encouraging you to ask me if you wanted to know more. Now taking Thomas as your example I challenge you to explore your faith, challenge your doubts, and ask questions and most of all find answers.
Don’t' let your doubts separate you from Christ, be prepared to place your hand into his wounds, be brave, be prepared to believe.