Homily 4th Sunday Advent Year C - I love Advent, its a time of preparation.

Homily (Sermon) - I love advent, the preparation, the expectation

The Readings for Sunday 23rd December 2012  or Forth Sunday of Advent Year C:

Old Micah 5:1-4
Psalm 79:2-3, 15-16, 18-19 Rv4
New Hebrews 10:5-10
Gospel Luke 1:39-44
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

I love advent, the preparation, the expectation, putting up the decorations, Christmas music on the radio. And one of my favourite pieces of Chirstmas music is Beethoven's Ode to Joy, part of his ninth symphony. It's an amazing piece of music, uplifting and full of wonder.

It's all the more amazing when you think where it came from. When Beethoven wrote it towards the end of his life, he was completely deaf. He never even heard the music himself.

Something so wonderful, from such an unexpected place.

That, on so many levels, is the message we are given in today's readings. The problem is that we don't see things as unexpected any more, we are far too used to hearing these stories, these miracles, this good news. We are all probably very aware of the town called Nazareth, it's the town where Jesus grew up. It's where Mary and Joseph lived. It's very important to us, so we think of it as an important place. But 2009 years ago it was thought of by most people as nothing. The back of beyond.

In our first reading today, the Lord, speaking through the profit Micah, says “the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel.”  It was from Judah, in the back water town of Nazareth, in that unexpected place that God choose Mary to bear his Son.

This brings us to Mary, mother of God, Mary mother of the Church, Mary Arc of the Covenant, Mary most blessed of all women, Mary Queen of Heaven.  The Mary we think of, is the Mary who carried Jesus in her womb, who raised him, who stood at the foot of his cross, who was present at his empty tomb that glorious Sunday morning, who watched him ascend into heaven, who was present a the foundation of the church and was assumed into heaven by her son.

But it may be helpful for us, to think a little differently about Mary, particularly the Mary we heard about tonight. She is at the start of her journey, she's a young women, probably no more than 16 years old. From a quiet backwater town. The Mary we heard about tonight has only just said yes to God. In the verses directly before our reading she has been visited by the Angel Gabriel and told she will bear a son, her answer was our gospel acclamation, “I am the handmaiden of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.”  As the Angel leaves her, she sets out to visit Elizabeth, a journey of about 150 miles, it would have taken a week, maybe two. Plenty of time to think, to ponder, to pray.

What was Mary feeling on that journey? Joy, Fear, Love, Worry, Trust, Uncertainty, Faith, Anxiety, Amazement? Probably all of these, probably every emotion you can think of. What was she thinking? How were people going to react? What would Joseph say? What about her parents? Would they understand this was Gods will, or would they condemn her for being pregnant outside of marriage. A crime punishable by death by stoning.

When Mary said yes to the Angel she hadn't asked what was going to happen to her, would she be looked after? She had no idea. But she has still said yes. Many profits before her had argued with God. Moses asked God to send someone else, Gideon wanted a sign, Jonah just ran away, Isaiah said woe is me, Jeremiah claimed to be to young, Zechariah said that Elizabeth was to old. Mary just said yes. Was that without thought of the consequences? I doubt that, Mary proved many times she had wisdom, what we see in Mary, is such unusual and unexpected courage to do, no matter what, the will of God.

Mary's rush to see Elizabeth, is a rush to talk to the one person who would immediately understand. And what a welcome Mary receives. Elizabeth, and the miracle of John, her unborn son, recognised Mary as the mother of the Lord.

“Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

Elizabeth has seen instantly that Mary had been filled, filled to overflowing, with the holy spirit. The joy of Elizabeth's reaction, must have been a relief to Mary, and her courageous and faithful  Yes to the Lord, is transformed into pure spirit filled joy, as Mary responds with the Magnificat in the verses directly following today's gospel. Maybe you would like to read through the Magnificat tonight before going to sleep.

Mary is very much loved and respected by us for her role in our salvation. There are many prayers asking for her intercession on our behalf. But tonight we are called to remember Mary was once a young girl from nowhere who said yes when the Lord called her. Our Lords looks for workers in the most unusual places.

So, where will be the next unusual place the Lord will look for someone, who will be the next unexpected person the Lord will  use. Will it be you ?

We to are called to do the Lords work, in attending mass tonight we are filled by the spirit, in listen to the word of God in tonight's gospel we are filled with the spirit, in receiving the Eucharist or a priestly blessing we are filled with the spirit. So filled with the joy of the holy spirit, are you ready to listen to the Lord, are you ready to say yes to the Lord.

I love Advent, its a time of preparation. What have you be preparing for?

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Homily 3rd Sunday Advent Year C – I want you to be happy.

Homily (Sermon) – I want you to be happy

The Readings for Sunday 16th December 2012 or Third Sunday of Advent Year C:
Zephaniah 3:14-18
Psalm - Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

Advent is a time of preparation, a time to reflect on our lives, a time to make the changes Christ would want us to make, a time to look forward with hope, with joy to the coming of our Lord. Today is a special day in advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, and Gaudete means rejoice.  Today in our advent preparation it’s a time to rejoice, we rejoice because we know the miracle that is about to happen, we know that Christ came into our world at Christmas; we know that through his death on the cross He paid the price for our sins. We know that if we turn to him with a penitent heart, he will look lovingly at us and welcome us into His Kingdom. Today with that knowledge it is time to rejoice.

In today’s readings we hear some wonderful lessons. In our Gospel reading we hear John the Baptist teaching in the desert. People are coming from miles around to hear him; they are excited and want to know what they must do to be saved. John is trying to make sure that the people are ready for Jesus when He comes; he is preparing them, teaching them. That’s why we hear a lot from John during Advent, as we too are preparing to meet Christ.

John talks about sharing, of giving, of looking after each other. If you have two coats and you see someone with no coat, give them yours. If you have food and you see someone going hungry feed them. These are simple instructions, yet we only need to look at a paper or the news on the TV to know that people around the world are starving. Much closer to home there are people living on the streets in Bristol, with only the clothes they have on and they have no idea where their next meal will come from.

John is giving a clear example of the message Christ was to give. Love your neighbour as yourself. For us to follow that commandment is both a joy and a challenge. When we do something for someone else we normally feel good about it, we feel the joy of giving, and that feeling is the joy of Christ in our hearts.
It’s also challenging, to give and keep giving when you feel you often have little yourselves. We need to develop a giving heart, we need to give of our possessions, our time and our love. We need to really care for those we give to, rather than give to those we care for. The distinction is huge, we are asked to care for everyone, to look out for their needs, to love them as we would like to be loved ourselves.

The result of this kind of caring is what Paul was talking about when he wrote to the Philippians. We should take great hope and rejoice in his opening line.

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.”

A caring heart, a heart that loves God, a heart that loves its neighbour, a heart that just loves, that is the path to happiness. There will be disappointments, there will be worries, there will be things you don’t have that you need. Paul’s message is clear here as well, just talk to God about this, and ask Him to help, pray honestly and thankfully. Know that He loves you so much that on the first Christmas night He came Himself into this world so that we could be freed from sin.

Christmas is only a few nights away. It’s time to prepare. It time to care for the people around us. It’s time to rejoice.

Gaudete my brothers, Gaudete my sisters, Christ is coming.

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Homily 2nd Sunday Advent Year C – Peace through Integrity, and honour through devotedness

Homily (Sermon) - Peace through Integrity, and honour through devotedness

The Readings for Sunday 9th December 2012 or Second Sunday of Advent Year C:
Baruch 5:1-9
Psalm 125
Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11
Luke 3:1-6
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

We have had snow across most of the country this week. Monday was the biggest online shopping day ever. All the shopping centres have their Christmas lights up. The radio stations are playing Christmas music. Christmas parties are happening in offices and homes. Mince pies are being eaten by the dozen. And Doctor Who is back on the cover of the radio times. It must be Christmas, right? Wrong!

It’s not Christmas, it’s Advent.

A time of year that the non-Christian world misses. Advent has its own feeling, its own purpose. Advent like Lent is a time of preparation, a penitent time, that is why we wear purple both in Lent and Advent. Advent is a time to prepare, a time to listen to the words of Baruch, Isaiah and John.

They all talk of levelling mountains, filling valleys, straightening roads. But what does that mean for us, well to help us work that out, I want to tell you a small story about a small stone that’s sitting next to my advent candle at home.

The stone was a present from Sonny, a friend of mine, who went on a long walk to find it. Sonny spent his summer walking to Everest Base camp, a long 6 week walk, climbing five and a half thousand meters up to the bottom, of the world’s tallest mountain. My stone used to be part of that mountain, it used to sit five and a half kilometres higher than my mantelpiece. Sonny said one of the hardest days walk on his way to Everest, was when he started the day in a small village, descended 500m into a valley then climbed 500m out of the offer side of the valley to end up after 10 hours hard walking only half a mile from where he started, looking back at the village he had left that morning.

Sometimes our lives can be like Sonny’s day, time spent going down and up, but with very little progress. The valley and the mountain slow our journey. We are separated from God by the route we take. If we could only find a way to straighten the road, to level the ground, we could travel much faster and much easier towards our Lord. But it’s not in our ability to level Everest, we can't possible fill in Sonny’s valley. And we can’t by ourselves level and straighten our spiritual road. But Christ can, and Christ does. When Jesus died for us on the cross he leveled every spiritual road, and straighten every spiritual path, he made our way easier, he left us scripture and teachers to point the way like signposts alone his road. This Advent I want you to follow the signposts, take the path Christ made for you, follow him.

Specifically this week, I want you to level something, and straighten something, and prepare yourself to meet Christ at Christmas.

Actually find something to level, use your imagination, jump on a mole hill, smooth the icing on your Christmas cake, smooth the sheets, blankets or duvet on your bed as you make it. As you level something think of Jesus levelling the road for you and thank Him for coming to save you.

Actually find something to straighten. You could take extra care wrapping presents to get the paper and folds clean and straight. As you do, think on the times your life has got all crumpled and screwed up, ask Jesus to forgive you, for your mistakes.

Take time to this Advent, take time every day this Advent, spend it with Christ. Say the Lords Prayer when you open the window on your Advent calendar. Make sure that you use Advent to prepare for Christmas, make time to straighten and level your spiritual life.

I would like to finish today by highlighting a phrase from our first reading, a phrase Baruch used which really struck me. Baruch prophesied about God telling Jerusalem to prepare because He was going to show the splendour of Jerusalem to the world. He was going to give Jerusalem a name forever, a name that would be “Peace through Integrity, and honour through devotedness”. That’s an odd name but a wonderful greeting.

This Advent I don’t wish you a Merry Christmas, and I don’t wish you Happy Holidays. This Advent I wish you Peace through Integrity, and honour through devotedness.

For those of you who want to know a little more about Sonny and his trip to Everest you can read all about it on his blog at http://www.sonnybennett.com

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Tee Hee

Tee Hee.

He was enchanted. Tiny eyes sparkled open wide with excitement, His face beamed as he gurgled;
tiny hands clapped out of time; his toes waved messages only he understood. He was too young;
too innocent to know this was Christmas. He had not been bewitched by the spirit of the age. All he
knew was that it was good; he was surrounded by love.

What will this Christmas mean to each one of us?

May God grant each one of us the childlike innocence; simplicity that will enable us to understand;
treasure the true meaning of unfailing love.

Patrick R.
December 2012.

Homily 31st Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – Work At Love

Homily (Sermon) - Work At Love

The Readings for Sunday 4th November 2012  or Thirty First Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Deuteronomy 6:2-6
Psalm 17:2-4, 47, 51
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 12:28-34
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

I few months ago I finished a homily by telling you all that I loved you, and a lovely thing happened afterwards. As I stood with Father at the door of the church, a large number of you said, “I love you too” as you left. I hadn't expected that, it was lovely and proved that not all of you slept through my preaching.
Mark’s gospel reading today builds on that teaching of love, it links the law of Moses to the teaching of Christ. Jesus started by repeating the command God gave Moses that we heard in our first reading. ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” He then goes on “The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’
So today’s message is the simple message at the heart of our faith, the command to love. You are commanded to love God and love everyone.

It might seem strange when you think about being commanded to love. Our society paints a picture of love and romance. Of falling in love. Of love being uncontrollable. You only need to listen to some of our music and literature to think that love is only something you only fall into.
“Love is a many splendored thing.” ~ The Four Aces
“Love lift’s us up where we belong.” ~ Jennifer Warnes & Joe Cocker
“The power of love is a curious thing Make a one man weep, make another man sing” ~ Huey Lewis
“This bud of love by summer’s ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.” – Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliette
But love is so much more than romance. Love is the bond between friends, love is what drives us to care, to help, to serve. Sometimes love is easy, automatic, we are compelled by love. The love of a parent and child, the love of a husband and wife. Sometime’s though love is more difficult because the compulsion, the feeling, the automatic response isn't there. But today’s command is to love regardless.

I want to tell you a couple of stories, two extremes. The first I hope you will never have to face anything similar. The second in some form I think we all face every day.

During World War II a Dutch family helped Jewish people fleeing the death camps. The family was eventually caught, the father in his eighties died quickly in prison. The two daughters both in their 50’s ended up in a concentration camp, one lived and the other died. But before she died she was told by God that her sister would survive and after the war would help the German concentration camp guards to know love and forgiveness again. That’s exactly what happened, Corrie ten Boom, the surviving sister built a home and hospital in the grounds of an old concentration camp. She taught love and forgiveness, and with God’s help and grace she even forgave one of the guards who had tortured her and the sister.

My second story is about Mother Teresa, she went to prayers every day, and every day was distracted by a nun sitting a few rows behind her who clicked her rosary beads. She started getting annoyed by this unseen nun, wishing she could just pray quietly and not impose on her silent prayer with that constant clicking. Then she realised she was not loving that other nun, so she started to pray for that nun every time she heard the clicking. Soon she would listen out for the comfort of the clicking, knowing that the nun was well. One day when she couldn't hear the clicking she worried that the nun may be ill, and prayed that she and the clicking would return.

This is the love Christ is talking of, not easy love, but love to be worked at. It’s difficult to love the stranger, it’s harder still to love someone who offends or harms us. But that is what Christ does, he loves us all. That’s is what the Father does, he loves us all so much he sent his Son to know us and to die for us.

If we are to follow today’s teaching we need to work at Love. We need to pray for the gift to love those we don’t know, and those we dislike.

To paraphrase Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we need to be patient, kind, never jealous, boastful, conceited, rude or selfish. We must not take offence or resent others. We must delight in truth and always be ready to trust, to hope and to endure.

Today you have been commanded, go out and work at love. Go and Love your God, Go and Love everyone. And know that you are loved, your God loves you, and so do I.

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Mass for the Deceased Members of our Diaconal Family

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Please remember that our annual Mass for the Deceased Members of our Diaconal Family takes place on Thursday, 15th November, in St Nicholas of Tolentino Church, Lawford's Gate, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0RE.

Commencing at 7.30pm.
Very Rev. Canon J. Bernard Massey, VG, will celebrate the Mass.

See you there!

Homily 28th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B – A Sad Story

Homily (Sermon) - A Sad Story

The Readings for Sunday 14th October 2012  or the twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 89:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

I think this is one of the saddest stories we hear in all the bible. It's a story of what might have been, it's a story of the earthly wealth denying heavenly riches, it's the story of a man called by Christ. “Come, follow me”, Christ said to him, just like He had called Peter, Andrew, James and John on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Yet we don't know this man’s name, because this potential apostle said 'No' and turned away. If he had said 'Yes', what might he have achieved for God's Kingdom.

This man wasn't a bad man, in fact we can assume he was eager to hear Gods word as he ran up to Christ and knelt before Him. We also know him to be a faithful Jew as he kept the commandments. He did not steal, lie or defraud. He did not kill or commit adultery. He honoured his family. So we know he did nothing wrong. He was also rich, which according to Jewish tradition must have meant that God was pleased with him and had granted him wealth.

Jesus looked at him, loved him and called him to do something different, something more, something he hadn't been doing. Jesus asked this man who did nothing bad, to do something good. Jesus asked him to put into practice the greatest commands, to love God and to love his neighbour as himself. It was not enough for the man to do no wrong, he had to do right as well, had to love and put love into practice.

The man was unable to accept Christ call, for him the price was to high, he  turned down Christ's offer to follow Him, he kept his worldly riches, turned and walked away from Christ.

As Christ, his heart still full of love for the man, watched him walk away he contradicted Jew tradition as he said, “How hard it is for those that have riches to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were astonished as they believed that to have wealth was a sign that you were in good standing with God, and here was Jesus telling them that riches were a stumbling block to entering the kingdom of God.

How often do we repeat the mistake of this man today. We live good lives, we do nothing bad, we don't steal, we don't lie, we don't kill. Yet do we Love? Do we give? Do we follow?

Riches can be our stumbling block today. In the UK we live in one of the richest countries in the world. Our personal wealth typically puts us in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. We can easily get side tracked by money and comfort, we can worry about losing what we have. Without being bad people we can all to easily forget the millions of people worse off than we are. Like the man who ran to Christ today, we can all to easily say I want to follow but then when it comes to action, to actually following, we choose comfort, worldly trappings, gold and credit cards.

Our salvation however is a gift from God, because everything is possible for Him. Christ's death on the cross paid the price, the heavenly price, for our salvation. God found a way to offer us entry into His Kingdom. The door to His kingdom will never be closed, we are all offered entry. The only question is do we choose to enter.

If we choose to follow Christ, we can expect to have to make sacrifices, we are not promised an easy life, if we follow, we are not promised riches if we follow, we are not promised comfort if we follow. We are however promised the kingdom of heaven, and it's in that kingdom that we will understand what real wealth and riches are.

It takes real wisdom, wisdom granted by God, to realise that wealth and riches in this world are nothing compared to the Love of God and an eternity spent with Him in his kingdom. Our first reading tells us we can find wisdom like this through prayer.
“I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones;
compared with her, I held riches as nothing.”
In fact our psalm today is a prayer for wisdom, a crying out for Gods love and grace. With God's wisdom, love and grace you will be able to hear Christ calling you to follow Him. Christ is constantly asking you to follow him. Constantly offering you a new opportunity to say yes. To not only do no wrong, but to actively do good, to be part of his Church, to be part of it's mission.

In a few moments time, as we celebrate the Eucharist, you will have the opportunity to stand before Christ. Are you ready to ask Him, as the man did today, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and when He tells you what to do, will you like the man sadly turn away, or are you ready to follow?

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Homily 27th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - Marriage

Homily (Sermon) - Marriage

The Readings for Sunday 7th October 2012  or the twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 127:1-5
Hebrews 2:9-11
Mark 10:2-16
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

We find out today that controversy about divorce is not a new thing, and that the permanency of marriage is even older.

When Jesus walked the world 2000 years ago divorce was common place, it took little for a man to divorce his wife. He only had to find a fault with his wife and the potential faults ranged in severity from adultery, through not cooking what he liked, being aggressive which was defined as speaking loud enough to be heard next door, and to my amazement the most ridiculous fault of not being the prettiest girl he looked at. Yes, a man could legally divorce his wife if he saw someone he desired more.

In return a wife could only divorce a man in severe conditions like adultery or if he got a disreputable job like becoming a tanner. Tanning in those days meant spending your working day washing animal skins in urine and excrement.

Men were coming up with any and every reason for divorce just to enable them to indulge their lustful hearts. Women and Children were being treated like possessions. How far was this from the picture described in our Genesis reading.

In Genesis we are told that man and woman are made for each other. Woman is made from Adams flesh and bone, made from Adams rib. The word rib in Hebrew is Tsēlā which could also mean side or a quarter of the heavens or a part or division. The story we hear in Genesis is poetic, rather than a scientific report or newspaper story. It teaches us that men and women are created from the same stuff, designed to be together, both physically and emotionally. Adam was pleased he had a friend, a companion and ally. Someone he could spend his life with, someone who was so much like him that when they came together they became one.

That should be our model for marriage, the coming together of a man and woman, the making of one out of two, creating something new, something better, something stronger. But you don't have to give up yourself in marriage, marriage is about adding your hopes and dreams together. The married couple face life together, stand as one, support, love and challenge each other.

Marriage for me is wonderful, I love my wife Gail and very much believe she completes me. I am a much better person with her, than I was before we met. We like all couples disagree sometimes, we both get a little selfish, but it never lasts long. I can't imagine life without her now.

Marriage is special, it is part of Gods plan. It mustn't be entered into lightly, there shouldn't be clauses about jobs, cooking, shouting or wanting someone else to let you out of a marriage. Marriage is for life, it is for the completeness of us.

I know divorce happens in our world. I have seen the pain and suffering caused as marriages break down. I don't like it, I don't really understand it. Sometimes the couple never really committed to each other, they never really became one. Sometimes there is a betrayal by one person against the other. We are broken people, we sin, we make mistakes and when that brokenness and those mistake break a marriage it is horrible.

Gods rules for marriage are not meant to restrict us. They are there for our good. In marriage a man and woman come together, they become one. They promise each other and God that they will remain as one. If you are married or are intending to marry, I pray that your marriage is happy and prosperous, and you keep your family in the heart of your home.

Homily Index - Next Weeks Homily


There is a something hidden at the back of the cupboard, covered in dust and hardly recognisable for the treasure it really is. This golden treasure has been forgotten, it's meaning lost as time moves forward. I have opened the cupboard and spied the treasure, recognised it for what it might be. I have taken it, cleaned it, gazed in wonder at its meaning, and now I share it....

My treasure is a word. My treasure is the true meaning of a word. The meaning that has been lost, forgotten. My treasure is the real meaning of the word Mystery.

When we think of mystery we think of something confusing, a puzzle, something we can't understand. We might think about an Agatha Christie novel, or an episode of Scooby Doo. If we describe something as a mystery we mean we don't fully understand it, it is something we desire to know but don't. In fact these description of the word Mystery can be found in a modern dictionary, but there is another meaning, an older meaning, a greater meaning. Want to know what it is?

A Mystery is, a truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation. You see we have focused on the first half of the sentence for to long. We must take back the second part “Except by divine revelation.” For Christians 'Mystery' is divine revelation, it is the truth, the answer, not the question.

Christ is Mystery. Christ is divine revelation, God visiting us, introducing Himself to us, teaching us and ultimately giving Himself for us. Christ's life on earth was divine revelation, the revealing of God to us, the revealing of truth. Christ is Mystery not a mystery.

The proverbial cupboard I found my lost treasure in was a 50 year old document describing the Church. It's first chapter is called 'The Mystery of the Church' and I was surprised and inspired by the wonders I found while reading it.
“Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world.”
The Church as described here combines us all in this earthly life through baptism with the heavenly kingdom. We are the Church, a royal priesthood, a consecrated people, all of us not just the ordained, the people, the laity and ordained together form the body of Christ. “A people made one with the unity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.” But it does not stop there, Christ is the head of His Church, active it in. He sent His Spirit to help, guide, love and console us. His Church spans earth and heaven, exist through all time, “While it slowly grows, strains towards the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King.”

The Church is Mystery, it is divine revelation, it is God making himself known to the world. If we are the earthly part of the Church, and we are, we need to look at our role and how we live in this world, how we effect this world and how we make Christ present in this world. That's the Mystery we are part of, it not an unanswerable question, but it's the answer to all questions, its Truth.

The document I have been reading and talking about is Lumen Gentium, “Christ the Light of Nations” and was written during the Second Vatican Council. It a beautiful document that I urge you to take a look at, you can find the full text here Vatican Archive - Lumen Gentium

Fifty years ago the council recognised a changing world, a world they briefly described in the open paragraph.
“The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.”
Reading the description written 50 years on you can't help but feel the document was written for us today in 2012, and that my friends is the Mystery, the truth, the divine revelation of God to our modern world.

More Posts about the Documents of the Second Vatican Council

The journey in faith talks are free to all and held in at 7:30pm on Thursday eveings at:
St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6QR.
Tel: 0117 983 3939

Sara Groves Delights Fishponds

Last night I had the pleasure of watching Sara Groves perform live in front of a small crowd in an intimate church in Fishponds, Bristol. I have loved her music for over 10 years now and it has been a constant source of inspiration and confirmation of God's love. In a 2 hour set Sara played songs from Invisible Empires her latest album and many songs from her huge back catalogue, although she would have had to play for 5-6 hours to fit in all my favourites. A surprise and delight from last night was hearing her tell the stories behind the songs. Just like Nancy Griffith or Bruce Springsteen she would just chat to the enthralled audience. I now long for a live album (or double album) containing not only the best of her songs but also the enchantingly, moving and spiritually blessed stories behind them.

Sara is the Bruce Springsteen and Nancy Griffith of the gospel world, bring beautiful music, inspiring stories, and most importantly the Holy Spirit, Gods love, to the lives of all her fans.

Sara also talked about the work of IJM, International Justice Mission, and I highly recommend you taking a good look at their website. IJM are working globally to fight injustice and free slaves, while from your history lessons you know about the horrible things people did to slaves and the horror of slavery itself, you also know that slavery was abolished, unfortunately you are wrong. Slavery is still going on, in fact there are more slaves today than at any time in the past.
“Today, millions of lives around the world are in the grip of injustice.
More children, women and men are held in slavery right now than over the course of the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade: Millions toil in bondage, their work and even their bodies the property of an owner.
Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 32 billion dollars a year for those who, by force and deception, sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage. Nearly 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry. “
IJM Website
If your quick you can catch Sara at Bath tonight, then Buckinghamshire on the 4th Oct and Belfast on the 6th Oct.

More info on Sara Groves from www.saragroves.com and on twitter @grovesroad
More info on IJM from www.ijm.org and on twitter @IJMHQ and @IJMcampaigns

Year of Faith - The Second Vatican Council

Journey in Faith

The Autumn 2012 Journey in Faith program at St. Augustine of Canterbury is looking at the documents of Vatican II in preparation of the Year of Faith. Where possible I'll be posting notes, comments and presentation by the speakers at these meetings.

Yesterday Deacon Mike opened the series of talks with an introduction to Vatican II. The journey in faith talks are free to all and held in St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6QR.

Notes from Deacon Michael Belt's Journey in Faith talk for the 20th September 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed the coming year, beginning on 11th October 2012, and ending on the Feast of Christ the King, 24th November 2013, a “YEAR OF FAITH”.

This Year of  Faith marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, in Rome on 11th October 1962. It also, incidentally, coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a work that Pope Benedict has described as “an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council”.

It was Pope John XIII who, early in 1959, less than three months after his election as Pope, announced that the Council would take place. Vatican II was the twenty first general or ecumenical council of the Church. It was the only general Council to be convened in the 20th century, and only the second general Council since the 16th century Protestant Reformation. It is regarded by many as the most significant religious event since the Reformation, and it was certainly the most important religious event of the 20th century.

Pope John XXIII’s principal aim in calling the Council was to ensure that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be guarded and taught more effectively. In his opening homily at the Council, he encouraged the Council fathers to work out ways and means of proclaiming these truths in a manner more consistent with a pastoral view of the Church’s teaching office. In addition, he urged the Council fathers to work for the unity that Christ so desired.

The Second Vatican Council met at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for four separate sessions, which took place over four years. At the beginning, 2,540 council fathers — bishops from every corner of the world — met in the nave of the basilica, joined by 1,000 superiors of religious congregations, official observers, theologians and other experts.

One of the official observers was Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion of Mary.

Provisions were made for the media, governmental representatives and also 80 official attendants from other Christian churches. They, apparently, had the best seats in the Basilica!

In contrast, there were only 737 council fathers at the First Vatican Council in 1869-70. That was still significantly more than the 259 bishops who, at various stages, attended the Council of Trent (1545-63). Trent was the last general council before Vatican I and was enormously important for the Church.

The much greater attendance at Vatican II was, I am sure, due to the development of somewhat better means of transport since the time of Vatican I.   Vatican I was dominated by Europeans, many of them being European bishops who were pastors of dioceses in mission lands, such as those in the African continent. By the mid-20th century the bishops of most of these dioceses were natives of those lands.

Among the bishops eligible to attend Vatican II were 1089 from Europe, 489 from South America, 404 from North America, 374 from Asia, 296 from Africa, 84 from Central America, and 75 from the Pacific region.

All the speeches made at the Council were in Latin. A bishop from the USA, Cardinal Cushing, had offered to pay for a simultaneous translation system, similar to the one that was in use in the United Nations, but, for some reason, his offer had been declined!

The Council was, however, the first in history to have electric light, telephones, typewriters and other “modern” forms of communication (although it did not yet have access to the computers, satellite technology and other forms of electronic communication that are part of our everyday lives today). It was also the first Council to be covered by newspapers, magazines, radio and television from all over the world, although the news media were not allowed into St Peter’s during the sessions, but they had to rely on press hand-outs and on the reports of friendly bishops and observers.

The Council was unique in its stated purpose as well. Unlike many of the previous Councils, Vatican II had not been called as a matter of urgency in order to combat heresy or to deal with any serious threat to the unity of the Church. On the contrary, in his opening address, Pope John said that the Council’s goal was to eradicate the seeds of discord and to promote the peace and unity of all mankind, not to repeat traditional doctrinal formulations or to condemn errors.

The preparation of the agendas for the four Council sessions was the most extensive and democratic in the history of the Church. Some 9,300 proposals were submitted, and these were sifted by eleven preparatory commissions appointed by Pope John. These commissions, which were composed chiefly of “safe” Rome-based theologians, met between November 1960 and June 1962. Finally, in July 1962, seven comprehensive documents were issued to the bishops of the world in preparation for the opening of the Council in the October. These documents were concerned with the sources of revelation, the moral order, the deposit of faith, the family and chastity, liturgy, media, and unity.

The first Council session (in 1962) was a very dramatic, stormy and controversial one. It mainly concerned the refusal of the bishops to accept the Roman Curia’s organisation of conciliar commissions, the initial debate on the document  on the liturgy, and the initial debates on the document on the Church and the document on revelation.

The three subsequent sessions (1963 to 1965) were, at times, less stormy.  Pope John died in June 1963 and was succeeded by the progressive Cardinal  Montini, who took the name Paul VI. His address at the opening of the second session, on 29th September 1963, listed four aims of the Council: the development of a clearer idea of the Church, its renewal, the unity of all Christians and dialogue between the Church and the world.

The results of Vatican II fit into one paperback volume. There are 16 documents in all, including four significant “Constitutions”. It is striking that the documents in their final form were passed with near-unanimity by the Council fathers. The scope of the subjects debated by the Council is also striking: from liturgy to ecumenism, and from priestly formation to religious freedom. These subjects have been explained and developed over the past 50 years under the guidance of successive Popes.

Some of the major works that have followed Vatican II are:
  • The revised Rite of the Mass
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • The revised Code of Canon Law
  • The revised version of the Divine Office.
There are numerous other revised rites and countless books.

Finally, in preparation for the coming Year of Faith, the Bishops of England and Wales have recommended that we revisit some of the major documents of Vatican II, and they have specifically asked that we study the four documents that we ourselves will be looking at in the coming months, namely, the Constitutions on the Church (Lumen Gentium), Divine Revelation (Dei verbum), the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium), and the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes).

Next week, we will begin with the Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), and hopefully discover something of the Mystery of the Church and its members – The People of God.

Post by Guest Author Deacon Michael Belt

More Posts about the Documents of the Second Vatican Council

The journey in faith talks are free to all and held in at 7:30pm on Thursday eveings at:
St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6QR.
Tel: 0117 983 3939

Homily 25th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - Called to be selfless

Homily (Sermon) - Called to be selfless

The Readings for Sunday 23rd September 2012  or the twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Psalm 53:3-6, 8
James 3:16-4:3
Mark 9:30-37
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

There is a lot of conflict in this world. I don't just mean wars, terrorism or violence although they often seem the worst and most extreme conflicts. I also include the daily conflicts we are part of at work, school, in our families and even in this Church. Small arguments, little disagreements, frustrations that other people don't quite see the world as we see it. Tiny fights we need to win each day to succeed in our work, play and faith.

There is something about being human that drives us to succeed, to want to achieve things. For some people they target greatness, look at our Olympic and paralypic athletes, for others maybe the ambition is smaller, getting the kids to eat breakfast and get to school on time is challenge enough.

Ambition, drive, success and winning are the themes of today. And our teaching from Christ today seems contradictory, "If anyone wants to be first, they must make themselves last of all." The message doesn't fit with the way we see the world work.

We are told that the disciples had been arguing over who was the greatest. I had to smile and see myself reflected in that line. I remember bad team meetings at work that dissolved into boasting of successes and putting down of others. Sometimes I took part, others I sat back and thought to myself, this is stupid why can't they see this gets us nowhere, I am a much better manager because I am not taking part. On reflection I see how wrong I was on both occasions, and the disciples knew they were wrong also, they were ashamed to tell Jesus what they had been arguing over.

Our society tells us that being right, being first, being the best is all important. But society is wrong. There is nothing good or important about being first, however there is only one thing bad about being right, or first or best, and that one thing is doing something just to be right or just to be the best or just to be the first.

So what are we supposed to do?

We are called to be gentle and are called to endure. We are called to bring peace to conflict. As James tells us the seeds of the peace maker will bear fruit in holiness. Jesus tells us to be the servant of all.

It's in our nature to put ourselves first. Christ tells us not to, he tells us to put others first. He shows us a small child as an example. Put them first, serve them and you are serving Him.

There is a huge difference between doing your best and being best. Being the best student, the best driver, the best mum, the best doctor, the best anything you can be is good, it's holy and it will bear fruit. Being better than anyone else is point less and will only lead to conflict.

Use your skills for others, welcome their needs, their vulnerabilities. Help them as you would help a child. Welcome them with open arms, you will be welcoming Christ.

Following our lord is not easy. He never promised it would be. Selflessness is not in our nature, pride and greed are. If you are to be a follower of Christ you needs put your human nature last to enable you to put your spiritual nature first. Work hard, but always for others, strive to do your best, but resist the urge just to be the best, if you are the best thank God that you are able to serve so well.

This week please reflect on the today's teaching. It's a hard one, a call to be selfless. It's one we will all find difficult, and without prayer and a relationship with a loving God we may find impossible. But we have a loving God, one who is selfless, who died for us, who forgives us, and is ready to help us if just ask in prayer for help. Please pray about conflicts in your life, pray for help in bringing peace, pray that you maybe be a seed of the peacemakers and bring all huge harvest of holiness.

Homily Index

So it's turned into a Poetry Morning

My Friends, I started today leading morning prayer at St Augustine's of Canterbury. We typically start prayers with a hymn, but there are options to use poetry as well and one of my favourite poems for Monday morning prayers is 'St Patrick's Breastplate'. I love the words, the binding of myself to Christ, as if I were putting on armour. Armour forged from the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you don't know the poem then you can find it Here in a previous post I wrote during the Olympics.

I then spent a good hour updating this site with the latest batch of poems from Patrick Rigg. I felt blessed reading them, several really made me think and all can be found Here.

I was also sent a link to Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss a wonderful poem that made me smile and really consider my current job hunting situation in a new and positive light. I hadn't read or heard this poem before, and I am so glad I now have. I am looking forward, and even heading off to Oh, the places I'll go :-)

So it's turned into a Poetry Morning, and I have been reminded several time of one of my favourite poems, that I haven't heard or read in quite a while, so I dug out a copy and it still inspires me to live the life I want to lead, and not to let life dictate how I should live. So let finish Poetry Morning with Rudyard Kipling's master piece 'If'.


IF you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

A selection of new poems from Patrick Rigg

I have just had a wonderful hour adding these poems to the blog. Patrick has a real gift and several of these poems spoke directly to me as I read and published them.

'Gifts' struck a cord, it summed up the support not only Christ gives me, but the support my friends and family always provide just when I need it. 'I Am a Rich Man' is lovely as well, it made me smile to think someone could mistake Patrick for a man with money, he is well spoken, kind and gracious, but if your eyes are open you can see he carries all he owns with him, but as he tells himself he is definitely a rich man.

I hope you enjoy Patrick's latest batch of poems, and if you do the entire collection he has shared with me is published here. Poems by Patrick Rigg

New Poems
A Reason for Honesty
I Must Learn
Living Future
I: Superior Being
I Am a Rich Man
Fallen Hero
The Plateau

The Plateau

The Plateau.

This mountain is steep,
A long road,
And now today,
I have reached
A plateau,
It is time to relax,
Take refreshment,
Prepare for the climb,
Perhaps look back,
Enjoy victories claimed,
Lessons in my memory,
The occasional wrong,
Never seduced,
Victim of deceiver’s lie,
My tears,
The tears of joy and sorrow,
All that brings healing,
New life,
For I am a bond man,
Set free in Christ’s love,
To enjoy,
Enjoy living risen life,
Raised high on eagles’ wings,
Renewed anew; refreshed,
Full of hope,
The gift of God to men,
I press on
Ever praising,
Towards my goal
The high calling
Which is Dad’s prize
For me,
And all who by adoption
He calls sons.

Patrick R.
September 2012.

Fallen Hero


I paused by the Cathedral yesterday as a military funeral was taking
place; another young man home from Afghanistan. The rest of the world,
apart from a few old soldiers and those of my generation passed by
without a second thought or glance.

I do not seek to glorify war; no right minded person can ever do so. I
simply acknowledge that those of us who are left owe the fallen a debt
of gratitude; even just a moment of our valuable time to stand and to


Fallen Hero.

Old hearts cry out in their despair,
Another funeral,
Full military honours today,
Tribute to a young man who gave
His all
For you and I,
In the service of his country; proud
To wear the uniform,
To serve,
Determined to uphold freedom,
Our right to live
Speak; enjoy a life without fear,
Killed by cowards afraid to fight
As men; man to man,
Reliant on the bomb; hidden
An unseen device,
Ready to cause a lingering death
ravaged by pain,
Loss of limb; perhaps own dignity
Before merciful relief at last,
Dead too to the torment; hell
Of those nearest who wait; cry
Die as a loved one’s life slips away.
There are no words
None that this poet knows to tell
The debt of gratitude we all owe
This brave hero,
A youth robbed of a noble future,
Perhaps a family without a Dad,
A widow mourning,
Proud of her man yet inconsolable,
Commands just moments of our time
to pause,
We may not have known him,
But surely it is our duty to remember,
Without him
His sacrifice and of so many before,
We could not walk this way today,
Free men our heads held high.

Patrick R.
September 2012.

I Am a Rich Man!

Good morning John,


An unusual title! I had a "gentleman" who was being offensive and
insisting that I was a "Rich Man" playing at being on the streets the
other evening. I am grateful because he made me think and take stock
This poem is the result.

Every blessing,

I Am a Rich Man!

I do not own a property,
I have no roof tonight,
Not any wealth or shares.

I have no money at Bank,
Nothing hid in an old sock,
Away from prying eyes

Any cash; the change I have
Buys me my necessities,
Is there on loan to do good.

All I have I carry with me,
My treasures
A few things just to survive.

But I am a rich man; rich
Not by any worldly standard,
But in all that really matters.

How can this be you ask?

I have my health and sanity.
Power to think and to reason,
And am not slave to any.

There are people, who care,
Sometimes at a price I know,
But they are there for me.

I have my freedom to live
To come and go so freely,
Speak my mind within the law.

Is this what makes me rich?


These are gifts that God gives
Contentment; all that is good,
Is mine in His loving mercy.

Yet my friend there is far more,
More than we shall ever know,
God’s bounty and love for me.

I know that my redeemer lives,
Gave His life to set me free,
And walks beside me always.
It is God’s love that lives in me,
My purpose; yes my everything,
To share the risen life with all.

I am a privileged man: God’s
Adopted son,
My calling to bring praise to Him
Glorify His holy name
And evermore worship Him,
To treasure the peace He brings,
The sure certainty; the knowledge,
My God is mine and I am His
Never to be separated from Him
The love that never fails
And will not let me go.

Now that my friend is true riches,
The wealth that this world seeks
But only God can bring.

Patrick R.
September 2012.



Herald of our future,
Educating our minds,
Abandoned it destroys,
Revered it encourages,
Inspiring the mind
Nature’s beautiful gift
Gladdens every heart!

Patrick R.
July 2012.



Mutiny not against this holy silence,
Enter the Lord’s presence with joy,
Determine to set aside the world,
Immerse yourself in unfailing love,
Treasure precious tender moments,
Accept the blessings He has for you,
Transforming your days; bringing life,
Instructing your ways to follow Him,
Opening hearts and eyes to truth,
Newness of life; empowers your way.

Patrick R.
January 2012



Beauty. You tease and taunt but who are you?
Why beguile us to love some passing stranger?
To seek perfection, wondrous state that never is.
Beauty. Why do you never bring joy that’s true?
Every spot, each pound heralds some new danger,
And cautions that ‘tis surely folly to seek such bliss.

True beauty. So different, never deceiving the eye,
Elegant, pure, joyful, at one with self and oh so true,
Forgets the inches, pounds and is ignorant of fashion.
True beauty. You cannot tease, taunt or even ever lie,
You do not seek approval, we love you ‘cos you’re you,
Born deep within, undefiled bringing joy to the nation.

Loveliness. Pure spring water from our inner, deep self,
Personality that charms, warmth that pleases our heart,
You mirror our very soul, sweet essence of our true being.
Loveliness. Priceless gift, never to be found on any shelf,
Not bought in any shop, nor the beautician’s oft famed art,
Truth, and joy, nature’s treasure for eyes that are all seeing.

Take no care today: Forget fickle mirror’s glazed, critic view,
The outward appeal, all that tin tinsel that hides and wraps,
Mere flesh and blood, the urn created to simply hold our soul.
It is what shines and captivates, speaks deep within from you,
Firing our imagination’s flame, enraptures and our heart’s trap,
The truest beauty, the purest loveliness that is our perfect goal.

Patrick R.
January 2007



Encouraging; equipping all men,
Denouncing false superstition,
And uniting many foes,
Cautioning against war’s destruction
Activating inspiration; achievement
Tormenting those who rule by force,
Instinctive tyrants; loathsome
Outlaws who hate humanity; where
Naturally comes true understanding.

Patrick R.
August 2012.



Yes; you were there,
Just at that moment,
At the right time,
When I needed you,
You had the right word,
Shared as only you could,
With tenderness,
The love of a friend,
You comforted me,
Inspired for another day
To be strong,
Walk forward in faith,
Thanking God for you,
Your special talents
Gifts you used faithfully,
So naturally,
To Dad’s glory,
As the Holy Spirit led
In quiet simple obedience,
So always remember
You are special,
Dad has a unique place,
A place just for you,
Where no one else can serve,
Bring the joy and peace,
That was your gift to me.

Patrick R.
August 2012.



Who am I if I do not bid you welcome?
What am I if I do not accept you friend?
What worth is mine I if I do not freely
and gladly share my abundance?
Acknowledge you are special ‘cos
you are you,
Encourage you to achieve your best,
Enjoy the rights; privileges I myself own,
No I am nothing without love; if my heart
does not accept you,
My words; actions make you at home,
May I show honest humility when we meet,
Despise hypocrisy; sham; self-importance,
Remember we both have much to share,
So very much to learn from one another,
For it is through joy of mutual understanding
respect and shared experience,
We will both grow; walk tall and proud, so
Our differences; diversity will be our treasure.

Patrick R.
July 2012.

I: Superior Being

I: Superior Being.

I am important,
A total bastard in my time.

Strutting; posturing; bullying
These are my talents,
Understanding only one thing,
My ability to be the overlord,
Establishing my rule,
Proving a no-one is someone,
Relishing the opportunity,
My total arrogance brings,
Instilling fear; terrifying you,
The human dross I despise,
Offending all society’s standards,
Right to live without fear,
Relishing every opportunity; coward
I live on damaging others.

Bugger all of life’s conventions,
The right of men to respect,
Everyone daring believe they are
They are entitled to life’s freedoms,
Inspire a future generation
To do what is right; just and best,
Note this; the world over,
No one is as important as little me,
God created me; blind dumb fool
Hated; despised by all good men.

Patrick R.
August 2012

Living Future

Living Future.

Never judge a book,
Pretend you know all,
When you only read
the cover,
The critics’ choice,
Their affinity with a winner,
Someone who conforms,
Is all men to all men,
Has lost true inspiration,
His ability
to influence decisions,
Decision to give birth
To all that’s fresh and good,
A new and living future!

Patrick R.
August 2012.

I Must Learn

I Must Learn.

(From Youth).

This is our today,
Dawn of opportunity.

I have a privilege,
Opportunity to learn.

Experience needs a lifetime,
Yet it ours from birth.

I may be arrogant; foolish,
Pretend youth has nothing to tell.

My folly is next generation’s loss,
If I destroy our inheritance.

Inheritance builds our future,
Inspiration that must never be lost.

Patrick R.
August 2012

A Reason for Honesty

A Reason for Honesty.

The lie is a powerful weapon,
It simply has one purpose,
The total destruction of truth,
It has no place in civilisation,
Culture where men are equal,
Entitled to live life without fear,
A lie unchecked will destroy
Murder everything that is good!
The death born of a lie is slow
First it attacks our enthusiasm,
Hope for a better tomorrow,
The victim’s right; ability to live
Except in some twilight world,
The place where fear is king,
And self-doubt stifles truth,
Creates desire to believe the lie
‘cos if the lie is never false,
It surely cannot cause pain!
Whatever opiate is used to soothe
Be it a drug; alcohol or other way,
It cannot protect from this cruelty,
Savagery committing perfect crime,
Until finally all hope has died,
And the only escape then is in death.
My friend would you be a killer,
Would your conscience live with you?
May I encourage you today; always
When you speak; speak only truth in love.

Patrick R.
August 2012.


Hello Everyone,

I would like to apologise for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks. I have been busy, confused and a little down. I am currently looking for work and because of my love for family and Church have no desire to leave Bristol to find it. I also have a valuable but specialised skill set that means not many roles come up, and while there are many other jobs I can do I first want to try and find work I really enjoy. I thought for a few weeks God was calling me to a certain role working for Him, but I was wrong and after lots of preparation and waiting I failed to get the role. That has left me confused as I said, not knowing quite what Gods plans for my future are. There is also some anger associated with the disappointment and I felt posting here while angry wasn't going to be good hence the small gap.

I am hoping to write a few thoughts next week about expectation, preparation and maybe disappointment. My personal experiences and those I have watched during the Olympics have started many ideas spinning round my head.

Patrick Rigg has sent me a load of Poems so I will also update his page and get those poems posted for you next week.

I'll also try and get back to the homilies after a weeks break. I love writing them and exploring Gods word and his scriptural guidance for us. I learn so much myself each time I prepare a homily.

Finally, as we prepare for the year of faith I'll be looking at some of the Vatican 2 documents and I hope to post some reflections on them over the next few months.

So in summary, sorry for the short quiet spell, please keep my and my confusion in your prayers, and normal service will be resumed soon.

God Bless,

Homily 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - Listen, Hear, Act

Homily (Sermon) - Listen, Hear, Act.

The Readings for Sunday 9th September 2012  or the twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Isaiah 35:4-7
Psalm 145:6-10
James 2:1-5
Mark 7:31-37
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

This homily and readings are available as a Podcast at the iTunes store.
Or you can listen to it now by clicking here.

Why are we being told this story?

On face value it's a story of healing, showing us Christ's ability to perform miracles, demonstrating His Divine nature. However if we look a little deeper at the scripture we have heard today there is plenty it can teach us.

I want to start with prophesy. Isaiah had been told by God about the Christ, about how God would save His chosen people. Isaiah was told about things that the Christ would do, things that would enable people to recognise Him when he came. Isaiah prophesied about the healing of the deaf and dumb man we hear about today. However, the interesting and challenging thing to understand about prophesy, is that you can never be sure what has been prophesied has finished happening. It's far to simple to assume that because Isaiah said Jesus would unseal the ears of the deaf and make the dumb sing, that this is the end of the prophesy.

I think that todays prophesy is still in action, started by Christ and continued by his Church. It won't be finished until he comes again. Its our job to make sure we find ways to continue the work Jesus started when he healed the deaf and dumb man. And before we do that we really have to understand the lessons Mark is teaching us today, and depending on where you currently are in your faith journey with Christ the lesson may be different.

So let's start with the first lesson, the lesson for us as students of Christ. We have to learn to listen to Him. We have to have our ears unsealed.

How often do you listen to Christ's words? Probably at least once a week at Mass. More often I expect, as scripture is found in many places. Maybe you read your bible, or listen to scripture and reflections on the radio or television. Scripture is easy for us to listen too, but how easy is it to hear, to understand, to take it into our hearts, to let it guide us, to let it give us life? The simple answer is its not easy, we have to want to hear the message of Christ. We have to have our own deafness cured. We have to ask Christ to help us hear Him, we have to listen prayerfully before we can really hear, before we can understand, before we are ready to help Christ with His work, before we can take our place doing His work as part of His Church.

The man we hear about in today's Gospel could be me, could be you, in fact it should be. We have to let Christ stick his fingers in our ears. To allow Him to open us to His word, His gift of life. That's our first lesson from today's Gospel.

Christ calls us to continue his work, to work as His Church for Him, to help build heaven here on earth. Our second lesson today, is as followers of Christ, it's about how we go about doing His work. Jesus gives us a wonderful demonstration of this today. Think about the way he approached the man in today's gospel. Most of the time when Jesus cured people, He spoke to them, gave them an instruction or told them their sins had been forgiven. This time he used actions, why? Maybe because the man was deaf, Christ used a sign language to speak to him. He found a way to communicate with the man, before healing him.

That's our second lesson, find a way to communicate with people. Thats also the continuation of the prophesy, our tongues are being healed so we can proclaim Christ to a deaf world. But, how can we tell the world, or even just one friend, the wonders we know about Christ, if we can't communicate with them. Our ears have been unsealed, we know from our own experience Christ can and will unseal their ears, the challenge we are given as Christians is how do we start the conversation for Christ, He will finish it if we can just start it.

Starting the conversation is difficult, Jesus started it today in sign, and finished it in words. He started it in a language the man understood and finished it, once the mans ears were opened, in the language Jesus needed to use. You might need to learn a new language. You might need to learn about sport, or soap opera, or music. You might need to learn to enjoy country walks or computer games. Remember that Jesus started the conversation in the language the man understood, you need to do the same.

Today, tomorrow, until Christ returns, Isaiah's prophesy will continue. At some points you will need your ears unblocked and at others you will be asked to start the conversation so other can have their ears unblocked.

Where are you today in your journey. Are you struggling to hear, do you need to let Christ unblock your ears. Or have you heard Him and are now being called to communicate His message to others. Either way, today's gospel should be speaking to you, are you ready to listen, to hear, and to act?

Last weeks Homily 22nd Sunday - Homily Index