Newsletter 31st March 2019
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. We are now half-way through Lent and the Rose coloured vestments come out once again today. Maybe a time to take stock to see if we are managing to continue with our Lenten prayers and penances.
There are stations of the Cross at 6.30pm this evening.
A word of thanks for your generous support for the CAFOD lent fast day. We were able to send a total of £692 to CAFOD this year.
Next Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, at one time known as Passion Sunday. Next week the statues in the Church will be covered with purple veils. These remain in place until the Easter Vigil Mass.
I have prepared the rota for April for the Eucharistic Ministers. This includes the duties for the Easter services.
There are no feasts of Saints this week: we concentrate on the Lent season.
Lots of work taking place at present as we begin to prepare for the First Communions and the Confirmations. There are booklets to be drafted as well as arranging the places in the Church and buying all the things that we need. The children will be planting a tree as usual so I need to find a suitable place and prepare a hole. Remember to look out for the trees from previous year, the olives, the cherry trees, the magnolia and the plum tree from last year. All of them seem to be doing well.
Another grand- nephew/niece is due any day now. I will keep you informed and let you know the choice of name. I hope to call across to see the boy and his sister this week. I will go with their mother to collect them from school.
The major maintenance task this year is replacing the heating boiler in the house. Last year you may recall it was the boiler in the Church. The system is quite ancient and does not work in the top of the house. I hope to add thermostat valves to the radiators and this should reduce the fuel costs. Work should start in the next week or so.
Quite a complex recipe this time but very typically Spanish. It was a regular lunch dish at the College. Soak some chick peas overnight. Cook them very slowly with a piece of salt pork or bacon, some shin of beef, maybe a marrow bone and an onion. After a couple of hours add some potatoes, a pinch of saffron and some noodles. Usually the noodles and the broth are served first as a soup followed by the meat and chickpeas. In Madrid this is known as Cocido.
Oxford Street seem deserted these days with very few bus routes. There is now only one route from Charing Cross, the 139, so that it is easier to take the Tube. The great hoardings are still in place for Crossrail but no indication as to when it will be opened.
A Lenten prayer: Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ has delivered and saved the world; grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory.
We spoke about Vitae Lampada the other day. Do you remember these lines?
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
All falling fling to the house behind
Play up! Play up! And play the game!
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Today the familiar parable of the prodigal son – certainly one of the best known of the parables of the Lord – those who know little else about the gospels have heard the story of the prodigal – and certainly it shows Luke’s superb talent as a story teller.
You may recall that last time we read this parable three years ago several worked together to give a new interpretation – we ended up calling it the parable of the dysfunctional family, wondering about the morose elder brother and the reason why sullen father seemed to have withdrawn into his own private world – you will note that there is no mention of a wife or a mother and there may be a reason for this – and this all leads to the wish of the younger son to leave home, to escape from it all – but somehow the prodigal, in spite of his many faults – his impetuosity and his profligate behaviour – by his return, becomes the catalyst, the one who helps them all to recover – the old father is changed – it is only right that we should celebrate and rejoice – the dust covers are removed, the previously darkened rooms are full of light – the smell of cooking and the sound of music and dancing – life has come back once again.
This is certainly one way of looking at the parable – as with so many parts of the gospels, we come to recognise that they are elaborate pictures and we continue to discover new meanings. But the traditional interpretation of this parable, which is particularly appropriate in Lent, is one of repentance and of forgiveness. There are the words of the Son – I will leave this place and go to my Father – and the words of the Father – this son of mine has come back to life – he was lost and is found – It is a story that can be understood easily and it has been reproduced many times in art, in music and in literature in different. One of the best known pictures in recent times is the Rembrandt painting from St. Petersburg which shows the son kneeling before the father as he welcomes him.
In many ways this parable sums up what true repentance must mean – particularly during the season of Lent. Repentance is more than a brief prayer for forgiveness for past faults – forgive us our sins and bring us to life everlasting – it is a radical change in one’s way of life which may not be easy – the prodigal could have turned back at an earlier stage before all his resources were exhausted – but he did not do this – he carried on until he reached his lowest point – no one offered him anything – hopefully we have not reached this point in our journey – but part of our Lenten penance might be to stop for a moment and to see where we are going on our journey – the direction we are taking and just possibly – what might be the consequences – the phrase of the gospel comes back – I will leave this place and go to my Father.
And the Father welcoming the return of the prodigal – times of fear of hell fire and of punishment – certainly these can be found in the gospels – with the prophecies of the last judgement – but this is not the image in today’s gospel – it as if the father is waiting for the return of the son – day after day he has been sitting out on the balcony of his house – scanning the horizon hoping that his son will return – he sees him when he is still a long way off – and is filled with pity – thin, worn and bedraggled from his recent experiences – and so the father is moved with pity and does everything possible to welcome him home. We are going to have a celebration – this son of mine has come back. Possibly as part of your Lenten exercises, you might go to Confession – maybe not a fatted calf or a feast – but there can be something there – a sense of inner joy and of peace – perhaps even recovering something from the past – knowing the presence of God – knowing in a special way what it means to be a Catholic – there is something there – as the father says to the older brother – we should celebrate and rejoice.