newsletter 10th March 2019

Newsletter 10th March 2019

Today is the first Sunday of Lent.

We use the purple vestments and the Gloria is not recited.

On this First Sunday of Lent the gospel tells the story of the temptations of the Lord in the wilderness.

As a Lenten devotion there will be stations of the cross at 6.30 this evening.

Next Sunday the choir will providing a special Lent service in the form of solemn vespers followed by Benediction.  As it is the 17th March, at the end of the service there will be the veneration of our relic of St. Patrick.

(A strange co-incidence the other day with the Baptism of a child called Patrick Nicholas. Two saints from the 5th century and we have relics of them both: St. Nicholas beneath the altar and a reliquary for St. Patrick so he was blessed in a special way.)

There is a table top sale in the Angelus Room after the morning Masses today for the benefit of the Myeloma Charity which supports research on cancer of the blood.

On Thursday of this week I have to go to Douai Abbey once again to chair a meeting of the Historic Churches Committee. An early start so this means that it will not be possible to have s 7.30 Mass on Thursday.

Quite a busy week as I am at a meeting in London on Monday and I have a final appointment at the hospital on Wednesday.

Several boxes of chocolate eggs have appeared but they have been carefully hidden away so that cannot be discovered before the due day.

Here is a prayer for Lent:

Direct our hearts to you, Lord, so that we may follow you more closely this Lent and all the days of our life; in all our needs we turn to you for the help of your grace, and ask you to give us strength to work for the things that we ask for in faith, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

George Herbert tell us about Lent

It’s true, we cannot reach Christs forti’th day;

Yet to go part of that religious way,

Is better than to rest:

We cannot reach our Saviours puritie;

Yet we are bid, Be Holy ev’n as he,

In both let’s do our best.

A simple Lent dish: you will need to cook some green beans so that they are still quite firm. Prepare a sauce by frying and onion with some cloves of garlic in some oil and adding some peeled and sliced tomatoes. Cover the beans with the sauce and add a little wine vinegar and some pepper and salt.

Twenty years ago I was working in Westminster. I would travel home in the evening from Victoria and we would run beside one of the original Eurostar trains, taking the old route from Waterloo by way of Tonbridge and Ashford to the entrance to the Tunnel, before the move to St. Pancras and the opening of the high speed line.  Most of the original trains have now gone for scrap.

And to finish, a story from the funeral of Charles VII in 1461. In consequence of an altercation with the monks, the ‘henouars’ put down the coffin and refused to carry it any further unless they are paid ten pounds. The Lord Grand master of the horse quiets them by promising to pay them out of his own pocket, but the delay had been so long that the cortege arrives at Saint-Denis only towards eight at night.

Best wishes to you all,

Monsignor Nicholas Rothon




First Sunday of Lent 2019.

Today on the First Sunday of Lent we have the account of the temptations of the Lord in wilderness. Last year we read the account from Mark’s gospel with the simple statement – he was tempted by Satan. This year we have read the account from Luke with the full story of the three temptations.  They seem extraordinarily vivid – the stuff of nightmares.  Forty days in the wilderness on one’s own with minimum food, this is a time when human resistance is at its weakest – a time of visions and strange imaginations.  It is possible to think of these as stories of actual happenings – but it is also possible to think of them almost as parables – stories that the Lord told to his disciples at a later date to explain the meaning of temptations.

And by trying to interpret these stories, we can see how they represent some of the great human temptations that can cause so much sin and evil in the world –

  • The temptation of greed, of ownership, of an immediate satisfaction of our needs – to turn brown stones of the desert into bread that we can eat – it reminds us of our responsibility for the gifts of creation – what are we doing with it – are we remembering the needs of others and of future generations – of have our own immediate personal needs always been given priority – and the response from the Lord to the devil – man does not live on bread alone.
  • And the vision of kingdoms of the world and the will to power – with the Faustian promise – worship it me and it shall all be yours. Across history we have seen the consequences of this in many places – ending in exile in St. Helena or in the ruins of Berlin. But it is not in the events of history alone – it can happen in many other ways – where we work – in a family – even in a parish – where the thoughts and ideas of an individual become dominant to the exclusion of anything else – worship me and it shall be yours – but this excludes the possibility of a reasoned debate, listening and examining the ideas of others – we may not necessarily agree with them all, but we have listened – and I would tentatively suggest that this is something that we need in the Church today – which we see Pope Francis is trying to do – trying to listen and understand the ideas of others.
  • And the high mountain – I used to think of this as high risk – if you like standing on the edge of the volcano and looking down into the inside, but then, consciously, standing back – in the gospel story standing on the parapet of the Temple with drop to Kedron valley below – a familiar risk – climbing to a perilous point to take a selfie – and this seemingly is the meaning of the temptation – to know the risk but to able to turn back – to go so far, recognising the danger, but to be able to turn back – but I realise that this is not the real meaning of the story – there is the response of the Lord – you must not put the Lord to the test – and a reminder that one of the petitions of the Lord’s prayer is “Lead us not into temptation” . We’re not to climb over the barrier, ignore the warning notices and stand triumphantly on the parapet waving to the onlookers below – This is the parable, but in the different circumstances of life, it means saying I am not even going to start going down that road, in that direction, thinking I will have the ability to turn back if things start to go wrong – No –  I will not put the Lord to the test.

And then after the temptations themselves, the curious phrase at the end pf Luke’s account – the devil left him to return at the appointed time.  What can this mean? Generally, this phrase is interpreted to refer to the agony in the garden – when the Lord was tempted again, – let this chalice pass me by – but accept the will of his Father.


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