newsletter 29th September 2019

St. Mary’s,


Newsletter: 29th September 2019

Mass times: Saturday: 6.30pm (first Mass of Sunday)

Sunday: 9.30 and 11am and 7.30pm

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 10am

Tuesday, and Thursday, 7.30am

Eucharistic Service: Tuesday 10am

Confessions: Saturday 12 to 1pm

Welcome to the first issue of the magazine for the new season.  Lots to read in this issue and we look forward to some more fascinating articles in the months to come.

Today at the 9.30 Mass the new First Communion Group will be participating in a special way.  They will receive their crosses which they will wear at the First Communion Masses. They will read the Scriptures and will sing the Our Father and their special anthem. Please remember to pray for them all.

It was necessary to postpone the parish AGM in the summer but it has now been re-arranged for 8pm in the big hall on Wednesday 1st October. Refreshments will be available from 7.30.  We need to elect three new members for the Parish Council. I already have two nominations so one further is required.  Nomination papers will be available on Sunday.

A busy week ahead as the financial year for the College in Spain ends on 30th September. I have to collect up the papers for the audit, prepare my draft accounts and also the budget for the coming year. This year we have 14 students coming to the College. I look forward to our visit at the end of October.

Next Friday is the autumn Fast Day for CAFOD. I have put out some envelopes today and your contributions will be collected next Sunday.

A further visit to the hospital on Tuesday and I hope that it will not be too difficult. To Greenwich Town Hall on Thursday evening.

Monday is the feast of St. Jerome, Tuesday St. Therese, Wednesday the Guardian Angels and Friday St. Francis.  Remember to say a prayer for Father Hartley on Friday: it is both his feast day and his birthday.

I have put out some forms for the Eucharistic Ministers if they wish to book a place for the day of recollection in November.

A familiar dish at the College in Spain is a soup made from Chick Peas – garbanzos. The best ones to use are those in jar as it takes a long time to soak the dried ones. Cook them gently in moderate amount of water and then liquidise them. Be careful with the seasoning as the flavour is quite delicate. You can add some chopped parsley before serving.

A prayer to Our Blessed Lady for the month of October, the month of the Rosary: Have mercy on your faithful people, O Lord, so that we, who without the help of your grace cannot please you, may be saved through the intercession of the Mother of your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will find time to finger your beads during this month. This reminds me of the lines from Keats:

Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers while he told

His rosary, and while his frosted breath

Like pious incense from a censer old,

Seem’d taking flight for heaven.

(I hope that it will not be that cold in October.)

And a final thought: I suggest that whenever a radio broadcaster uses the dread phrase “U no” an immediate fine of £50 should be levied.  If this rule is imposed strictly, it will be possible to continue to offer free TV licenses to the over 75s.

Best wishes to you all,

Monsignor Nicholas Rothon


26th Sunday of the year.

Today the gospel story of Lazarus at the gate of the house of the rich man.

Not really an explanation of the story, but rather a reflection on different parts.

Is it in fact a parable? It is unusual that one of the characters has a name – Lazarus – generally the parables are anonymous, a sower, a farmer, a vinedresser –

There is a suggestion in the writings of the Jewish historian, Josephus that story is a veiled reference to Caiaphas, the high priest in Jerusalem. This story comes towards the end of the gospel where the Lord’s opposition to the way of life of the Pharisees and the High Priest was becoming more evident. The details would fit. Caiaphas had five brothers and would be well acquainted with the Scriptures – Moses and the Prophets – the great new temple in Jerusalem – constructed by Herod – had become an industry in itself and was said to have employed up to 30,000 – so the description of the rich man would have fitted Caiaphas.

But then Lazarus – certainly poor and sick – but he is not described as begging for alms – it is almost as though he co-exists in the Holy City – known and recognised by many people as they see him day by day – He is mentioned in Edith Sitwell’s poem – Still falls the rain – which describes the rain pouring down in London after a night of bombing in the Second World War in 1940 – on Dives and Lazarus, under the rain the sore and the gold are as one.  A vivid description of the way in which the same rain falls on the charred ruins – of the rich and the poor after a night of air raids. Just as in the gospel, the rich man and Lazarus are faced with the inevitability of death.  And it is a reminder of our common humanity – if I can mention a personal detail – in recent weeks I have had to spend quite a lot of time in Lewisham hospital – enormous kindness from many people – but also in the best possible way sharing common humanity with a wide range of people – the same food, even the same gowns and depending on the care of the same staff.  It might seem humiliating, but in many ways a special time, sharing common needs, a common humanity with so many diverse and wonderful people.  The contrast between Lazarus and the rich man seems immense, but they are essentially the same.

And then the question somebody returning from the dead – for this can I quote Eliot’s Prufrock poem – the same overwhelming question, to say I am Lazarus – coming from the dead come back to tell you all, I shall tell all.  Of course these words can refer to the other Lazarus in the gospels – the brother of Martha and Mary that the Lord raised from the dead – but these words can also refer to the Lazarus in this story – certainly we believe in eternal life – and the resurrection of the dead on the last day – but the exact form that it will take remains a mystery – and this is reinforced in the story – the great gap has been fixed to stop anyone crossing – Eliot’s poem expresses our great hope – how wonderful it would be to know all the details – coming back from the dead to tell all – yet today’s gospel makes clear that this is not the case – we travel onward in faith – it is our personal responsibility, hear and now, to work out the form that this journey must take if we are to reach our destination – certainly it would all be much easier if seemingly we had a specific answer to all our questions – but even then would we be satisfied – as the gospel puts it today – they will not listen to Moses and the prophets – they will not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead – we normally take this as a reference to the Lord’s resurrection – to those who refused to believe in him – but something else here as well – the cloud of unknowing which is faith but the confidence to continue with our journey.

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