1st Anniversary of my ordination today

It was a year ago today that I was Ordained. It doesn't seem like that at all, time goes by so quickly.

It has been a joyful year. So many privileges, so many moments shared with you and with our Lord. I thank you all for you prayers and support.

God Bless, J.



This art must not be allowed to die,
Victim of our folly; this stiff upper lip,
Ignorance of our own worth,
That silently; contemptuous blinds,
Each to power of spoken word,
The fruit of logic; ability to reason,
All that conversation in its full glory,
Uninhibited; flowing from the heart,
Can unleash today,
Once forgot sadness that comes,
Fury at the insincere ways of men
Their thoughtless cruelty,
All that militates against our love,
Compassion that is our humanity,
Causes real men empowered to rise,
Persuaded by arguments for good,
Determined talk alone will never do,
It is simply the flame that will ignite.

Patrick R.
July 2012.

Homily 18th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - Spiritual Revolution

Homily (Sermon) – Spiritual Revolution.

The Readings for Sunday 5th August 2012  or the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:

First Exodus 16:2-4,12-15
Psalm Psalm 77
New Ephesians 4:17,20-24
Gospel John 6:24-35
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

"Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way."

Change happens all the time. Everything changes. Sometimes change is good, 'A change is as good as a rest', they say. Sometime change is bad, like an illness or bereavement. Change can happen slowly, an evolving process that is sometimes difficult to see. Change can happen quickly, a revolutionary change that changes everything suddenly.

Paul tells us today to change, not a slow considered comfortable change, but a fast revolutionary change. A complete change. We must put on a new self, as if we are putting on a new set of clothes, a new self created in God's way. This must be a good change, as it will bring us closer to God. But any change described as revolutionary has to be scary.

What am I going to lose? Will I like the new me? What will I have to do? Am I going to be able to change? How do I change? And dozens more questions like this should be running through your heads.

Or are you thinking I don't need to change? Have you already got your life right? Are you already living in a self that's been created in God's way? I know I am still trying to change, still looking for ways to become more like the person God created me to be than the person I have evolved into during my life. I think I am evolving into the man God wants me to be, I have to admit I am scared to think that revolution not evolution is what's called for.

We are given a huge and historic example of revolutionary change in our reading from Exodus today. Everything has changed for the Jewish people, they have left their home and security and followed God and Moses into the desert. They are scared and they are hungry. They start to worry, then they start to complain, they challenge God and he provides for them. He sends them quail and manna, bread from heaven.  Here is a good lesson for us, change isn't easy, when it gets difficult ask for help, your father in heaven will provide. If He can feed two and a half million people everyday for forty years in a desert, he can help you with your worries.

The same Exodus story is picked up and quoted in our Gospel reading today. As we heard last week, a large crowd have just been feed from a small boys packed lunch, and have now following Jesus across the lake.

The people believe he might be the messiah prophesied in scripture and are hoping he will prove this. The miracle of the loaves and fish shows he is a prophet but it was just earthly bread he gave them to eat. The messiah would give them manna from heaven as Moses had, bread directly from God not of human making. In their concern for bread and manna, their desire to see scripture fulfilled as they thought it should be, they missed the real miracle, they miss the truth, they miss Christ.

I have to be honest, I would I am sure have made the same mistake, and that shows me I still need to change.

Christ goes on to reveal to them that, true bread from God comes from heaven and gives life to the world, and the He is that bread. All we have to do is come to Him and believe in Him.

One of the most wonderful privileges I have as a minister in this church is to distribute holy communion. I get to stand at the front of church and smile at each one of you as you receive Christ, the bread of life, many of you are privileged enough to receive the Eucharist, Christ in the form of Bread and Wine, some for whatever reason receive a blessing from Christ. We all, in those moments have the chance to turn to Christ, to believe in Him, to never be hungry or thirsty again. To start the revolution within ourselves. To become the creation God intended us to be.

Aren't you just a little curious to see what that will be like?

It is your choice. Are you ready? Will you receive Christ? Will you believe in Christ? Will you change? Will you start your personal revolution?

And remember, if you do decide to change, when you get worried ask your Father for help, He will be there.

Last weeks Homily 17th Sunday - Homily Index - Next weeks Homily 19th Sunday

Pope Benedict invokes blessing on Olympic Games

“In a few days from now, the Olympic Games are due to begin in Great Britain. I send greetings to the organizers, athletes and spectators alike, and I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world. Upon all those attending the London Olympic Games, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.” Pope Benedict
You can read a more detailed post at the UK in the Holy See website.

Dad’s Gift of Today

Dad’s Gift of Today.

Thank you for this new day, dear Lord,
The warmth; encouragement of the sun,
Bird song that simply worships you
Without words; simply from the heart,
The beauty of a stranger’s smile
Their joyful gift of love,
The gentle simplicity of children
Laughing Innocents at play; learning,
This Father is all your creation,
A bountiful treasury without measure,
Filling my heart with praise for you,
Thankful; so very blest,
Inspires me to love as you loved me,
Give back this day to your glory,
Pray that I may faithfully serve you,
Walk in the garden; in communion
Worshipping; praising from a full heart,
So that Jesus’ name shall be lifted high,
All men may come to know
And evermore praise your holy name!

Patrick R.
July 2012.



Soulful tunes,
Engaging airs,
Enigmatic words,
Endless pain!

Patrick R.
July 2012

The Day before the Day After

The Day before the Day After.

The day before the day after,
The great opportunity it brings,
We can all shape the future,
Do so much good for all,
Without any time for regret,
This is our golden opportunity,
Now we have power to bless,
It can’t be done tomorrow!

Patrick R.
July 2012

More shopping during the Olympics on Sunday our Day of Rest

I don't know how I missed this, but in May our MP voted to relax the Sunday trading laws to allow shops to open longer during the Olympics. I am concerned about this for several reasons, the first is personal, my wife Gail works in a shopping mall and she will have to work later or start earlier on the Sunday's during the Olympics. She has no choice if she wants to keep her company happy and keep her job.

Secondly, I don't understand the ever increasing need to shop. The erosion of family time, to be replaced with purchasing time seems wrong to me. Happiness doesn't come from stuff. Don't get me wrong here, I like stuff, and I have more than my fair share of it, but the stuff doesn't make me happier than I was when I was without it. In fact for the last few months I haven't been working so money is getting tight, I am happier now buying less but with more time to spend with my family and friends.

I do shop on a Sunday, it's easy and convenient. But it's not so easy for those having to work Sundays, they get no extra money and if they don't agree to work Sundays they don't get the job. The opt in and opt out clauses in the original bill don't seem to be working. Companies just expect their staff to put in the hours.

But are companies really making extra money? I question if a small shop in a large shopping mall will make any extra money and they will have to pay extra for staff and managers to be in. Money is tight at the moment for everyone, if people have longer to spend the same amount of money then surely businesses will suffer.

It also seems a shame to me that after all the effort made to bring and host the Olympics in the UK, that extra effort is being made to drag people away from the sporting hero’s and special of the event.

My personal view is that Sunday is a Holy day, a day set apart, scared, a time to be spent with God. My first understanding of this concept was the awe with which I watch Eric Liddell, in Chariots of Fire, refuse to run on a Sunday. What could make a man give up a dream like an Olympic Gold Medal, the answer is Love, Love of God, and more importantly a realisation of Gods love of us. I think I need to watch that film again in preparation for the Olympics, and in preparation for my personal attempt to shop less and God willing, not at all on a Sunday.

I'll conclude this post with a quote I found in the BCC news item about change to Sunday Trading laws.
“Sunday is a divine and priceless institution... the necessary pause in the national life and activity; it is the birthright of every British subject... and above all our great heritage, and one which is our responsibility, privilege and duty to hand on to posterity”
Winston Churchill

Homily 17th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - The Lord Provides

Homily (Sermon) – The Lord Provides, Introduce others to Jesus, Offer what you have.

The Readings for Sunday 29th July 2012  or the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
Ephesians 4:1-6
John 6:1-15
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

This was my first homily to St. John Fisher in 2009 and to a real congregation. It was based on three points, 1. The Lord provides in abundance,  2. Introduce others to Jesus and watch what happens, 3. Offer what you have it's amazing what the Lord can do.

2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
Ephesians 4:1-6
John 6:1-15

Last Sunday I was lucky enough to be by myself in San Francisco, I got up early and went to Mass at St Patrick's church in the down town area. Then I walked to the ferry port and got a ferry across the bay to Sausalito, then a bus to Muir woods, where the giant redwood tree grow. It was a beautiful sunny day and in the cool shade under the trees, I spent the next two hours walking up the side of a mountain. At about 1000ft up as the path turned and started back down, I stopped, had a long drink of water and wished that I had been sensible enough to bring something to eat. Listening to the gospel we have just heard reminded me of that feeling of hunger, so in a small way I can really feel for that crowd that followed Jesus.
Today's gospel is probably familiar to us, it should be as the miracle described, the “miracle of the loaves”, is the only miracle described in all four gospels. It is even described twice in the gospels of Mark and Matthew. It's also, not the first time miracles about people being feed are performed, as we heard in the old testament reading Elisha feeds 100 men with only 20 loaves.

Because it's so familiar, it is easy for us not to listen carefully, or not to think what does this mean for me today. But because it's repeated so often it must be significant, therefore all the more reason to study the words we have heard today.

Elisha was a great prophet about 900 years before Jesus, he performed many miracles, like curing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, he even made iron float, a miracle we don't hear Jesus doing. The large crowd that followed Jesus up the hillside would know about Elisha. The author of John's Gospel would also have known that his readers would be well aware of who Elisha was and what he did.

There are two differences in the story's, the first is how the miracle is performed, the second is the numbers involved. Elisha's miracle is performed by the word of the Lord, “They will eat and have some left over” spoken by a prophet. Where as Jesus, performs the miracle by giving thanks and giving out the food.

The number of people feed too, is much bigger, 50 times bigger. What Jesus is demonstrating and what we are being told is that Jesus is more than Elisha, much more than a prophet, Jesus is the messiah, Jesus is the son of God.

In John's gospel it's this miracle of the loaves, not the last supper which isn't mentioned, that Jesus uses teaches us of the bread of life and the Eucharist that we will share together in a few minutes. I wont steal any more from Fr. Franks homily next week, because next weeks Gospel continues, directly after this one. So try and remember this story when your listening next week.

I would like to turn now, to what this gospel can teach us about our lives today. What should we ponder on this coming week? How should we live our lives in accordance with the gospel?

Well I have just three things I want you to think about:
1. The Lord provides in abundance
2. Introduce others to Jesus and watch what happens
3. Offer what you have, it's amazing what the Lord will do with it.

First lets think about providing in abundance, we heard today not only of the feeding, but of the leftovers. The Lord says, “They will eat and have some left over”, and “they filled twelve hampers with scraps.” For us we must trust that the lord knows what we need and will provide for us, not just the minimum to survive, but in abundance, whether that abundance is food, friends, knowledge or spiritual support. We as Christians are not guaranteed an easy life, in many ways the opposite, we are not praying for an abundance of wealth or for all the sweets we can eat. When we are doing the lords work, he will support us, give us the gifts to do that work, and give them to us in abundance. The very fact I can stand here trying to break open the word of the Lord is an example for me, of the abundance of his gifts.

Next, Introducing others to Jesus.
Andrew, one of my favourite disciples for this very reason, is always introducing people to Jesus. Here we find him introducing a small boy with his packed lunch. Why did he do it?  Would all his friends, the other disciples, laugh at him for suggesting this boy could help? Or did he think, Jesus will turn this small meal into enough for everyone? I doubt it. But Andrew took that risk and look what happened.

It's because of people like you that I found a faith in Christ, the way you live your lives this week could change someone else's life, it could help them find Jesus.

Finally, offer what you have. Did the small boy today say, “No its my lunch and I am not sharing, get your own.” No he gave it to Jesus, who gave is back five thousand fold.

Charity is one of the great pillars of our faith, watch what happens when you give, of your time, your love, your skills or even your wealth. God will take it and do something amazing with it.

So this next week, give a little, live your faith, and rejoice in the abundance of good things given to us by our Lord, who is loving in all his deeds.

Last weeks Homily 16th Sunday - Homily Index - Next weeks Homily 18th Sunday

Homily 16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - The Good Shepherd

Homily (Sermon) – Travelling with the Good Shepherd

The Readings for Sunday 22nd July 2012  or the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
First Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm Psalm 22
New Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel Mark 6:30-34
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

My cousin is a farmer in Ireland, he keeps cows and some of them were in a field behind my mums house. Somehow a number of cows from another farm got into the field and mixed with his cows. When he came to fetch his cows in the evening for milking all he did was call from the gate, all of his cows knew his voice and started walking out of the field, the other cows just stayed where they were eating the grass. If you come from a farming background this story won't surprise you but to me a real towny I was amazed, but to understand what Jeremiah was saying you need to know how well treated animals respond to their master.

The prophet Jeremiah was speaking to a farming people, he knew they understood how the animals of a good farmer would follow him and how only a bad farmer would allow his animals to wander and get lost. His message to the leaders of Israel was a strong one, you are failing in your duty, your people are lost, God is going to send a leader to restore things to the way they should be. A shepherd who the sheep will love and follow.

When God sent His Son as the shepherd, He not only gathered the Children of Israel, but also the gentiles. He looked around the world and said, every sheep is mine, come to me. But to pay the price our broken lives and sins deserved, to purchase all of us, every sheep, he paid a large price. He paid with his own blood, his own life, he paid for each and everyone of us on the cross.

We are still those sheep, lost and listening for our masters voice, ready to run to him. Ready to return to his flock, and when we have returned to his flock, we, like the disciples, are also called to be shepherds, called to look after the sheep that haven't yet heard his voice. We are called to live a challenging and busy life in the service of the Good Shepherd, in the service of every person, every sheep in his flock.

From our beautiful psalm, we know if we journey with Christ our shepherd, we will be feed, our needs looked after, our spirits raised. But the journey isn't easy, sometime it will be tough, dark and surrounded by evil but our Shepherd is near so there is nothing to fear.

And it's during a busy and challenge time that we join the 12 disciples in the Mark's Gospel today. I think it's wonderful to hear this gospel passage of scripture, without hearing what comes after. If you read on, it would be far to easy to ignore what we just heard. Why? Because what follows is the feeding of the 5000.  Here we have a few simple lines about the disciples returning to Jesus, a promise of some quiet times, and the introduction of a large crowd miles from home. So is this passage just the setting of the scene, a literary journey to where Mark really want us to be? Well I don't think so.

We know from last weeks Gospel Reading from Mark's gospel that Jesus sent the disciples out to do preach repentance, cast out devils and heal the sick. We also know that they took very little with them relying on the Lord to provide for them. It must have been a hard and marvellous journey for them, and they returned tired and in need of rest.

On first reading I felt sorry for the disciples, their promise of some quiet time disappeared when they saw the large crowd waiting for them on the bank. I thought, the Lords work is never done, I smiled and thought this is a good example for us all, laity, deacons and priests, we need to get used to the call of the Lord and the work calling us to do, he has anointed us to do.

But then I prayed about what I should be saying today, and that wasn't it. Then the line “Sometimes the journey is enough” got stuck in my head.

When they arrived on the shore and saw the crowds they were ready. We don't know what happened on the boat, but we do know the disciples spent the journey in the company of Jesus, and that was all they needed.

As Christians we have been called to do the Lords work. It's a wonderful job and a demanding job and sometimes we get tired. I got home one Thursday evening, with about 30 minutes to eat, change and get back out the door to teach an evening at our Journey In Faith class. Gail looked at me, and said “I'll drive you round tonight love”, we spent ten minutes together in the car, Gail, me & God. I got out of the car refreshed and ready for the evening.

We are the sheep, shepherds, brothers and sisters of our Lord. We can do wonderful things with Christ our Lord, and like the disciples in today's gospel we get tired, and sometimes we don't have time to stop, but sometimes, as long as Jesus is with you, the journey, is all you need.

Last weeks Homily 15th Sunday - Homily Index - Next weeks Homily 17th Sunday

About Deacon John Scanlon

I am husband to Gail, a Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, an IT Director and I hope servant to all. Gail and I live in a 200 year old Gate House in Bristol, England. We worship and serve in Clifton Diocese in a communion of parishes including St John Fisher in Frenchay, St Augustine of Canterbury in Downend, Our Lady of Lourdes in Kingswood, St Lawrence in Chipping Sodbury and St Paul's in Yate.

I was ordained in 2011 after what seemed a long journey for Gail and I. On several occasions we felt we were never going to get there, or that we were not ready for the responsibility. Ordination is a huge commitment and a wonderful privilege. I started my journey in 2001 when I went to a friend’s funeral, while there I felt something good in the church. I was not a Christian then but I felt compelled to ask the priest about Christianity. He directed me to the parish Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programme and over the following six months I found Christ in the smiles of the people of St Augustine’s parish.

I started going to bible study at a friend’s house and met Gail there, we fell for each other instantly and were married in 2002. My faith continued to guide and challenge me leading me to help homeless people in Bristol by going out on soup runs. I also started to help teach occasionally at courses helping people to know more about their faith. It was also suggested that Gail and I attend the two year liturgy course run by our diocese. You can see here the start of my formation, the three fold ministry of the deacon is service to liturgy, word and charity.

The role of deacon is unique for it combines a clerical role in the life of the Church with a secular family and working life. Ordination was not be a point where I gave up work to dedicate my life solely to the Church, it was more a point where Gail and I had to find new ways to balance the family, work and Church demands on our life and time.

My work is varied and will include feeding homeless people on the soup run, performing baptisms, weddings and funerals, proclaiming and preaching about the gospels, and a bit of computer techy stuff like this blog which is currently read by over 1500 people a week. In fact anything may be asked, during formation I have visited prisons and hospital and even been interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol.

Ordination has been a precious gift, and it's right up there with marrying Gail as one of the best things I have done with my life.

You can contact my by email and twitter:
Google+ John Scanlon 

Homily 15th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - Summoned and Sent

Homily (Sermon) – Summoned and Sent

The Readings for Sunday 15th July 2012  or the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
First Amos 7:12-15
Psalm Psalm 84
New Ephesians 1:3-14
Gospel Mark 6:7-13
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.] 

At the end of this Mass you will be sent into the world. You will be sent to announce the Gospel of the Lord, to glorify the Lord. As followers of Christ we come to this church to worship Him, to love Him, to receive Him into our lives. We listen and learn from His teaching in scripture, we fuel our bodies and souls from the Eucharist. We prepare ourself to do His work, to live our Christian lives. Then we are sent into the world as the twelve are summoned and sent in today's Gospel.

How prepared do you feel, right now, to go.

You should go in pairs, so you can support each other, protect each other, one working one praying. You should take very little, the clothes your wearing are fine, you don't need any more. Don't take money, leave your credit cards behind, you will be provided for, and if you are not then leave, move on. Tell people to correct their ways, fight evil when you find it, cure the sick. Are you ready to do this?

Think how the disciples felt, they had come to Christ to learn, and now after only a few months with Him, they are about to leave him for a short time to do the work He has been doing, they are being sent out by Christ with His authority. Fear and terror mixed with Christ's peace and grace. Divine gifts and human weaknesses.

We are told in only one small sentence about their successes, they cast out many devils and anointed and cured many. We can only assume we are missing out on many stories similar to those we hear of throughout the Gospels, Acts and the letters of the New testament.

It's difficult to compare ourselves to these men. To the men who walked with Christ, ate with Christ, who were chosen by Christ to build his Church and teach his message. But that is us! We are called to walk with Christ, to eat with Christ and to teach his message. As Paul tells the Ephesians and as Paul tells us today, each one of us, every one of us, have been chosen by God.

He choose you! He choose you to be set apart from the world but still very much in it. He choose you to be spotless, not through your actions but through his forgiveness. He choose you, to be His daughter or His Son. He choose you to live with Him in love.

You are part of Gods plan, you are to play a part in his Glory. You have heard the message of Christ, a message of love, repentance and redemption.  To believe in this message, is to accept Gods choice, to realise that you are special in the eyes of God, that you have been called to serve.

Our world is in need of our teaching, our love, our service. There are many out there who don't understand our Church, who have never heard in their hearts the call of Christ. There are many out there who are in need of healing, body and soul. There are many out there who need feeding, who need to be cared for, who need to be loved. Christ has built an eternal Church, towering throughout the ages, blazing with the lives of the saints, to continue His Work and His mission. Each generation passing His Church to the next. Today, you are that Church, how are you going to serve? What is Jesus asking you to do?

I am not asking you to walk from town to town preaching on street corners, unless you believe that's your calling. I am asking that you consider what your calling is, what Jesus is asking you to do. Being part of Christ's Church is about all of your life, everything you do, everything you say. He has summoned you, He is sending you, what is he asking you to do?

As we hear in the Psalm, “The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit. Justice shall march before Him and peace shall follow in his steps.” Is it time to ask ourselves and ask our Lord in prayer, where will following those steps of peace lead us? Where should we march?

Please click here for an Index of all my homilies and notes.

Baby World

Baby World.

The simplicity, trust and innocence of a child!
Qualities that we need to regain to fully enjoy God’s love and His creation!

This is just so amazing,
Everything is new,
It’s all so very exciting,
I can stand now,
Confident; look around,
And laugh and giggle,
My blue eyes sparkling,
I am entranced; happy,
That man’s long beard
A crow’s nest?
Oh and the lady’s felt hat
Her tea cosy,
How wonderful; curious it is,
Then those colours,
All so bright; so delightful,
Just painted just for me,
As I touch Mummy’s hair,
Tiny fingers grasping; stroking,
Pulling gently,
As I seek her reassurance,
Her arm holding me so close,
Her gentle loving smile,
And her own special fragrance
As I go on my way,
Enjoying my new world,
Bringing joy to all I see.

Patrick R
July 2012.

Catholic Women's League (CWL) National Pilgrimage

It was a beautiful sunny morning as I wished the St Augustine's branch of the CWL a safe and holy Pilgrimage. I had planned to join them but unfortunately a job opportunity came up at the last minute so I missed the trip.

It was the first time for me to give a blessing to a group heading off on pilgrimage. The words of the blessing were:
All-powerful God, you always show mercy toward those who love you and you are never far away for those who seek you. Remain with your servants on this holy pilgrimage and guide their way in accord with your will. Shelter them with your protection and give them the light of your grace. As their companion on this journey bring them to their destination in safety. Amen.
The phrase that really stuck with me was "You are never far away for those who seek you." The ladies gathered outside the church were going to seek God. A day spent travelling in the company of Christ. I wondered what they would discovered during their journey, what they would gain from following Christ to Oxford, what they would bring back to our parish.

Pilgrimage is an important part of our tradition and faith, it's a time spent following Christ in physical actions, it's a journey with Him, it's a chance to refuel our faith.

Below you can read Jean's report to the Diocese, if you are interested in finding more out about the CWL Jean includes a link to their website. I would also be happy to talk to you about their organisation and work, and introduce you to Kate and Jean so you can find out more.

On Wednesday 11th July 2012 Catholic Women’s League (CWL) members from Clifton Diocese travelled to Oxford for their National Pilgrimage. Over 400 members from all over England and Wales gathered at the church of St. Aloysius within the Oxford Oratory to hear Mass celebrated by the Rt. Rev Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton and CWL Ecclesiastical
We were there to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Margaret Fletcher who founded the League in 1906. Margaret was born in1862 in Oxford. She died in 1943 and is buried in Begbroke Priory, Kidlington, just outside of Oxford. 
We were welcomed to the Oratory by the V Rev. Daniel Seward, Parish Priest and Provost at St. Aloysius. He told us that an old lady from the parish can remember Margaret Fletcher, who worshipped at St. Aloysius. Margaret was known to parishioners as Catty. Not as you may think due to a spiteful nature but because she kept about 14 cats at home. 
After Mass Margaret Richards, our National President, invited ladies and guests to take the short walk to Oxford town hall where afternoon tea was served.
If you are interested in joining the CWL or in any aspect of our work then please go to our website of www.catholicwomensleague.org 
Jean Coombs
Clifton Branch President

St Benedict Patron Saint of Europe

Today is St Benedict day, and St Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. With Europe dealing with financial and political problem right now I thought it worth taking a look at St Benedict's life and life and how the patron saint of Europe might help us today.

Europe in Benedict's life was full of trouble, much more than we have today. Rome had fallen a few decades before and war and barbarian raids were common. There was 30 years of peace under Theodoric of the Ostrogoths, but after his death war returned. Christianity was also under threat from pagan traditions and Benedict after going to school in Rome left to live a solitary life in a cave.

Benedict was a holy man and other men came to him seeking his wisdom and leadership. Over time he founded monasteries and wrote The Rule of St Benedict. The rule, a work for beginners, as he calls it, teaches those wanting to live a Christian and monastic life what is required of them. The rule is still practised by many today, both in monastic life and by people leading holy lives in the secular world.

Benedict's rule teaches how to live together. It would be interesting if the countries in Europe could employ similar rules for help with Europe current issues. Early on in the Rule Benedict describes the tools for Good Works. He starts with the ten commandments: Love God. Love you neighbour. You are not to kill, commit adultery, steal, covert or lie. You should honour everyone and never do to another what you do not want done to yourself. Our Countries, leaders, governments and us as citisens could all do well to try and live up to the commands.

Benedict goes on, renounce yourself, discipline your body, do not pamper yourself, love fasting, relieve the lot of the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead. Go help the troubled and console the sorrowing. Think how the current difficulties could be quickly solved if we challenged our governments to think of the other countries first, to be disciplined with what we have and use less. If we used less energy, less food, we could give more and help the hungry on the streets of towns across Europe. If we actually thought of the troubles of other countries rather than what those troubles might mean for us.

Benedict would tell us not to grumble, not to be lazy, not to speak ill of others, to endure persecution for the sake of justice, not to be proud or arrogant, never hate or be jealous and if we have a dispute with someone the to make peace before sunset. What difference would we make to Europe today if we asked our leaders not to blame other countries, not to be proud and arrogant over our achievements, not to want what other countries have, and when we disagree to make peace quickly.

Benedict’s' rule was for his community, but could we learn something today for our European community. We should never lose hope in God's mercy and maybe today we should prayer for the intersession of St Benedict the Patron Saint of Europe for God's help in solving the crisis effecting our countries and banks.

All Change.

All Change.

Talk is easy.

Ideas cost nothing.

Change is good; accept change for its own sake. Old systems are corrupt; new ways must be better.

I have talked. I have promoted an idea. I have exorcised some of my dissatisfaction but what have I really achieved. What have I really said? I have advocated change; I have not offered feasible alternatives.

How often do we encounter this situation? How often is the grass greener on the other side even when we wear dark glasses?

There is a better way!

Pray; listen and hear; be obedient to God’s word; ACT!

Patrick R
July 2012.

Good morning John, 

There is a lot of hot air doing the rounds at the moment about better reulation for the Banking industry; enquiries; prosecutions et all - but when we look at the rhetoric a little more closely there are really few if any firm proposals or viable proposals being offered for consideration.

How often are we in this situation today.

Perhaps the attached will strike a chord?

Every blessing,

Homily - Faith - 14th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B

Homily and Podcast preached on Sunday 8th July 2012 (14th Sunday OT Year B)

First Ezekiel 2:2-5
Psalm Psalm 122
Second 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Gospel Mark 6:1-6
[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.

Faith, Weakness and God's Strength

During the winter we often have an open fire at home. It's wonderful sitting in front of it watching the flames dance and feeling the warmth on your face. To get the fire started I use a layer of screwed up newspaper, on top of that a layer of kindling, often twigs gathered from the garden over the summer, finally on top of that coal or logs. If everything is dry a single match will have the fire burning well in a few minutes, but if the matches, paper or twigs are damp it's really difficult to get a good fire started.

Flames are often used as an analogy of faith. They provide light and heat, and they spread quickly. Faith leading to good works provides light and hope and it leads to that faith spreading and growing quickly. However, scepticism like we hear about in today’s Gospel acts just like dampness, stopping the spread of faith and the effect of the good works.

After leaving home to start his ministry Jesus toured the towns and villages of Israel, we hear today what happened when he returned home to bring the good news he was preaching to his home town. The people who knew him as he grew up couldn't see passed the man he was to His divine nature. How could a common man, a man like them, perform miracles and preach with authority. They refused to believe in the Son of Man, they refused to believe in the Son of the living God. All they could see and hear was the carpenter, Mary's son.

What surprised me was Jesus' reaction. He didn't prove himself with big miracles. No walking on water or feeding thousands here. He taught them as he taught everywhere else, and they were amazed as they were everywhere else but because they knew him they couldn't find the faith to believe he was sent from God. Their human good sense, the common sense of the town got in the way. It got their faith damp and stopped the fire of that faith blazing in their hearts.

Without faith, there was no room for God and no room for miracles. When we rely on ourselves, our judgements, our skills, our strengths and our common sense we limit Gods presence in our live. We can set limits on God, just as the people of Nazareth set limits on Jesus, “Jesus can't be from God we know he is Mary's son”.

Our human strengths can be our spiritual weaknesses, a strong man has no need of God to help him complete his daily work. A clever man has no need of God to help him solve a problem. A man filled with societies wisdom doesn't need to turn to God to understand the way the world works. The problem is if we don't turn to God for help with our daily work, help with the problems that face us and help dealing with the world around us, then our actions will amount to nothing. We may do well financially, we may be popular, but we will have missed our chance to be part of Gods plan, missed our chance to help forward his kingdom on earth.

This isn't a new problem, St Paul is describing exactly the same problem that effected him 2000 years ago. Paul was a clever and connected man, an educated Roman, able to rely on his own skills, abilities and contacts. When Paul started to follow Christ, after his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, he was blessed with weakness. Paul needed God in everything he did, and therefore looked on all his weaknesses as opportunities to let God into his life, his work and his mission. As a result of this today, we can reap the long term benefits of the work Paul did in his weakness with God as his strength.

We need to treasure our faith. It won't matter how well I preach today if I didn't prepare in faith, and it won't matter how attentively you listen if you don't listen with faith. If faith is the foundation of all our actions then Christ Himself becomes the foundation, the cornerstone of all our actions. Faith will grow, hope and light will flow from our actions. We will bring Christ's kingdom, we will bring Heaven here to earth.

Our scriptural lesson for today is beautifully summarised in the Psalm. Our eyes, like those of the servants we are, should always be on the hand of our master, waiting to see what He need us and wants us to do. We need His mercy, his grace, his forgiveness, because all to often we are full of contempt, our souls full of greed and pride.

We need to turn to God in weakness, and in faith. That's where faith, even small, questioning, unsure, unconvinced, confused faith begins to kindle the fire. And faith turned toward God will kindle quickly and spread just as flames through dry paper and twigs.

Addition Reading and listening
You may also be interested in my Thought for the Day about Weakness and Strength.
Please click here for an Index of all my homilies and notes.

7/7 Seven Years On

I almost missed the fact that it's the 7th anniversary of the July 7th bombings in London. My plans for the weekend revolve around summer fêtes, wimbledom tennis, visiting friends, Mass and preaching, I almost forgot to remember and pray for those hurt and killed. I almost forgot to pray for those who planned and committed the act of terror.

Christ tells us to forgive, to pray for our enemies, and while I lost no one I know in the bombings, I find it difficult to forgive what I watched on the TV and heard through various internet and social media channels during the chaos of that morning.

I am currently reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, in the chapter I read last night she was praying with her sister during a bombing raid as Germany attacked Holland. At one point her sister start to pray for the Germany pilots, Corrie then prays to God to listen to her sisters prayers rather than her own, as she was unable to pray for the German pilots right then. This is wonderful advice, when we find it difficult to follow Christ commands maybe we should pray for those who can follow the commands or maybe we could pray for Gods help in following the difficult commands at difficult times rather than struggle by ourselves to do what is commanded.

I think today when we remember all those affected by 7/7 we should also remember the advice Christ gave Peter containing all the sevens.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." Matthew 18:21-22

Higgs boson - The God Particle

CERN announced today the discovery of a new particle, most probably the Higgs boson.

[Link to the press conference this morning, it actually interesting and quite fun to listen to. It is not all complicated science and about 10 mins in there is a nice description of what the Higgs boson is using an analogy of journalist in a room.]

Peter Higgs work in the 1960s looking into the origins of mass has lead science on a quest to find the Higgs boson. It is a fundamental particle, one of the building blocks of everything else. The problem scientist have had is that the Higgs boson has proved very difficult to find. Today's discovery while not really understood by most of us, is another step forward in understanding our universe. The prime minister said today, "This is a great breakthrough, one that could be profoundly significant to our understanding of the universe and the fundamental laws that govern it." Peter Higgs was at the conference in CERN today, it must be an amazing day for the 83 year old.

The media have nicknamed the Higgs boson, the God Particle. This is based on a book written a few years ago called, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? The book was a popular science book on particle physics and described sciences search to prove or disprove the existence of the Higgs Boson. I quite liked the Higgs Boson Wikipedia Entry about why the author Leon Lederman gave it that nickname. 
Lederman said he gave it the nickname "The God Particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive," but jokingly added that a second reason was because "the publisher wouldn't let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing."
I find it interesting that popular culture still wants to link the science and God, either to prove or disprove Gods existence. One of the questions I heard asked on the radio today was "Does this prove God doesn't exist?" Science and religion have had there differences, the way the church treated Galileo wasn't good at all, but science and God don't contradict each other. As a Christian studying the world and the universe we live in, the universe God's hands created, can only lead us closer to God. If you have no faith, or an active faith in the non-existence of God, then I find it difficult to understand why you would look to science to prove your belief in the absence of God. I particularly like a quote from Johannes Kepler a 17th century astronomer and mathematician, who mapped the orbital paths the planets take round the sun, who said of his work, "It's like thinking God's thoughts after him."

Science and faith give us answers to different questions. Science is working hard on the question, How are we here? It's up to you and you relationship with God to discover Why you are here.

I want to end this post with my favourite tweet of the day:
"So glad the Higgs boson has been found. I presume someone has been praying to St Anthony, the patron saint of lost things."

Sara Groves Coming to UK and Bristol

One of my favourite singers in a young lady from the USA called Sara Groves. I have been inspired by her music for almost a decade now and yesterday I spotted on twitter that she is coming to the UK to tour later this year. While the England dates and locations are not yet announced on their website or the ticket site I did ask Troy Groves, via twitter, if they would be coming to Bristol and the answer was:           "@JohnCScanlon we are coming to Bristol!! Just booked 4 England shows. Will be adding to site soon. Look forward to meeting! T"
If you haven't heard of Sara Groves or heard any of her music you are missing something very special and powerful moving. Her music is spirit filled, beautiful, and challenging. I often have her music on when I am writing my Homilies or when I need music to help me pray.

She has released 10 albums, and you can find them on Amazon and iTunes as well as on her own website www.saragroves.com. You can also find several of her video's on YouTube and I have linked to a couple of them below to give you an idea of how lovely her music is. The nice thing about her own website is that it has the lyrics for all her songs as well, and as they are such powerful reflection on Christian life it's well worth spending time reading as well as listen to her words.

I'll post again as soon as more information is available.
UPDATE - Dates announced keep 2nd/3rd October free Tour Update
2nd UPDATE - You can buy tickets for the 2nd October here: http://saragrovesbristol.eventbrite.com/

This video is from probably my favourite album Conversations, and it's called Hello Lord

The video is from the latest album Invisible Empires, and it's called Eyes on the Prize.

Thought - Weakness and Strength

I will be preaching this Sunday (14th Sunday Ordinary Time). As I read the second reading from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians I remembered a 'Thought for the Day' I wrote a couple of years ago. So I have dug it out to show you and recorded it as a podcast.

Please click hear to listen to the Podcast or you can read the text below.

Weakness and Strength

For the last few weeks I have had a lot to do at work. My boss has been away and I have been doing his job as well as my own. As a result I have been working extra hours, travelling a lot and dealing with some important and difficult decisions. On the whole I have enjoyed the experience, but there have been times when I have been very tired and have made mistakes. But, all in all I am very proud of what I have done.

But yesterday I read a small verse in St Paul's letter to the Corinthians. “I shall be happy to make my weaknesses my special boast....For it is when I am weak that I am strong”. Paul was pointing out that when his abilities failed, Christ would take over, and therefore when he was at his weakest, with Christ he was at his strongest.

This got me thinking, should I be proud of what I have done?
Had I been excluding Christ from my work?
So I started thinking about what had happened and it wasn't long before I started to see where my weaknesses were and where Christ had steeped in.

When I came home late each evening Gail provided my favourite food, including two lemon meringue pies. When I worked past the last bus Sonny gave me a lift. When I felt lonely on the train a stranger started talking to me. When the work got difficult in London I met a new friend David who showed me what to do. When I forgot to do part of my normal job, Shaun just did it for me. When I needed to talk through something confidential, Adrian always had time to listen and advise. When I accidentally sent a confidential email to my team they laughed about the mistake instead of getting annoyed.

It was in my tiredness, my loneliness and my mistakes that I was most cared for. And it is in that caring, that love we have for one another, that we can find God working most strongly.

Twitter Introduction - My Top Christian Tweets to Follow

Twitter Introduction

Many people in our parishes are new to Twitter and don't really understand social medial and how to take part. So this is a very quick guide that I hope will cover what twitter is, how you might want to use it and who from a Christian point of view you may want to follow.

What is Twitter?
Twitter is an internet service that lets people share their thoughts with other people. It allows very short, only 140 letters long, messages to be published or tweeted as it's called, and read by people with similar interests.   A lot of the newer phones allow you to tweet and read tweets, so a lot of tweets are sent as people are out and about living their normal lives. Twitter now also allow people to tweet photo's and camera phones have made this feature very popular.

One of the concepts of twitter is following people, if you find someone who is tweeting messages you want to read you can select to follow that person and you will automatically be sent any tweet they post. Big events like concerts or large news stories like Osama Bin Laden's death can spread very quickly on twitter, mainly because twitter allows people to re-tweet other peoples tweets to their followers. 

You can use twitter as a news services, a gossip column and a way to keep in contact with friends. You can also start to tweet yourself and see who wants to read your tweets.

From a Christian perspective, who should I follow?
There are literal millions of people, some famous, most not who tweet. I am far from an expert in twitter but I am happy to share some of the people who's tweets I enjoy following, so to start you off, here is my top Christian tweets to follow.

On a very local level you can follow our parish offices and keep up to date with news and events:
St Augustine's Church office @staugustinebrs 
Our Lady of Lords Church office @ololbristol
Clifton Diocese and Bishop Declan @cliftondiocese
And of course I recommend you follow me @johnCScanlon

In the UK:
Ruth Gledhill, the Times religious correspondent, @RuthieGledhill
Westminster Diocese @RCWestminster
Sr CatherineWybourne, The Digitnal Nun @Digitalnun
J John, a brilliant evalgelist @Canonjjohn
John Sentamu, Archbishop of York @JohnSentamu

Around the World:
The Vatican News Service and the Pope @news_va_en
CAFOD, Charity tackling poverty and injustice across the world @CAFOD
CTS -The Catholic Truth Society @CTSpublishers
Daily quotes from CS Lewis @CSLewisDaily

Should I tweet?
Why not. If you are new to tweeting or decide to give twitter a go after reading this post please let me know, I'd love to follow your tweets and maybe others would as well. Try and tweet interesting things, thoughts and photos other might like to see. If you start following other people many of them will also start following you as well. Find out if your friends use twitter so you can start tweeting them and they can follow you. My simple advice, give it a go, see what all the fuss is about after a few weeks you will know if it's for you.

Let me know who else I should be following
There are millions of people I don't follow on twitter and I am probably missing some real pearls of wisdom. If you follow someone you think I should be following please let me know either here in the comments of tweet me @johncscanlon