Newsletter 9th June 2019
Today is the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days after Easter.
We commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Our Lady and the Apostles as they were gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The red vestments are used today.
Next Sunday is the feast of the Holy Trinity.
There is a second collection for the Catholic Trust of England and Wales which supports the administrative work of the Bishops’ Conference.
Tuesday is the feast of St. Barnabas. Although not one of twelve, he is named as an apostle. He introduced Paul to the others after his conversion on the road to Damascus and the book of the Acts shows that he had a great influence in the early Church.
We change to the new series of Mass books next Sunday, so if you have taken one of the present set home by mistake, please bring it back.
We are looking forward to the Confirmation which will be celebrated at the 11am Mass on Sunday 23rd June.
I am away for a meeting of the Historic Churches Committee at Douai Abbey on Thursday so there will not be a 7.30 Mass. There are one or two controversial applications so it will be an important meeting.
A very busy with a Finance Meeting on Monday, to the Deanery on Tuesday and a further meeting on Wednesday with an evening at Lewisham Town Hall for an Education meeting.
You might possibly have noticed that a piece of high level gutter has fallen from the upper room of the Church. We are arranging for a cherry-picker to be hired to attend to the external redecoration of the house so we will take the opportunity to use this for the repairs to the gutter.
The boy and his sister came to visit me recently. They enjoyed playing in the garden – and also ate a great deal of food.
I have been looking after the cherry tree planted by the First Communion group. It seems to have settled well though I am not sure if there will be much fruit. There is a small amount of fruit on the trees planted in previous years but there is a risk that it will be taken by the birds and the animals.
A prayer for children today: Lord, be near to all children, that in the peril and confusion of tis age their growing spirits may take no hurt at our hands, and grant to parents such sure knowledge of thy love that they may guide their children in courage and in faith. Amen.
The poems of Lawrence Durrell are very good:
Day rings in the higher airs
Pure with cicadas, and slowing
Like a pulse to smoke from farms,
Extinguished in the exhausted earth,
Unclenched like a fist and going.
The recipe this week comes from something I saw in the station buffet at Valladolid. Fill a small tumbler with some chopped mushrooms and some prawns and cover with hollandaise sauce. Top with a diced gherkin, a piece of red pepper and half of a hard-boiled egg.
Memories of the past: the Iberia express, on the way to Madrid had connected with the overnight train from Paris and used to arrive in Valladolid at about 4pm. It was hauled by a magnificent steam engine with a long train including a traditional Wagon-Lits dining car. The modern electric train is efficient, but has far less character.
Best wishes to you all; Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
Today, as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, we will remember the events that we have commemorated during the Easter season – but we are also looking to the future.
The first reading today describes the crowds in Jerusalem and tells where they have come from – devout men and women from every nation under heaven – they are there to share in the celebration of the Jewish feast – 50 days after the Passover known as Shavuot which celebrates the arrival in the promised land and the harvest of the first crops – and the feast also celebrates Moses receiving the commands of the law from the Lord God on Mount Sinai – events from the past – but also pointing to the future – each year the generations to come will continue to harvest their crops and to observe the law of the Lord –
And for Christians – also a new beginning – the apostles on the day of the first Pentecost – recalling all that had happened in the time that they had spent with the Lord Jesus – from their first call until the day of the Ascension when he had given them the command, go and make disciples of all nations. Filled with the Spirit, they are able to proclaim their faith. Seemingly only a few days before, they had hidden themselves away in the Upper Room – fearful of what might happen. Their minds were filled with their memories from the past – the miracles, the parables, the teachings of the Lord. But how to make sense of it – to turn it into something that would give new direction to their lives. The coming of the Spirit is described in dramatic terms – a powerful wind from heaven and tongues of fire – possibly this is a way of describing what in fact was a deep emotional experience – a recognition that – yes – indeed this is true – certainly going back over the past but looking to the future with confidence – knowing that the Spirit of the Lord was with them – helping them to understand it all and giving them a strong and confident faith that they can share.
The feast of Pentecost is an opportunity for us to go back over the past and to think of our own experiences – what it means for us from the past – and how it points to the future. We receive the Spirit initially at our Baptism – immediately after a child is baptised, the head is anointed with Chrism – the sacred oil which in a special way signifies the presence of the Spirit – and at Confirmation receiving the fullness of the Spirit – in two weeks’ time a group of young people from our parish will be confirmed by Bishop Lynch – if you have been a sponsor at a Conformation – it is possible that in a special way, you will have been aware of the presence of the Spirit – and for many of you, the thought that on your wedding day – the Spirit of God is there to bless and to help you with your future married life – for those of us who are priests, a very special awareness of the presence of the Spirit at the moment of ordination.
As with the apostles on the day of Pentecost – we can look back and record these special moments with joy – but there is also the future – there is the phrase that Paul uses in his epistle to Timothy in order to encourage him – fan into a flame the gift that God gave you – the spirit of power and of love – an echo of the tongues of fire at Pentecost and a reminder that a fire can become dull and grey – seeming without life – and the powerful wind – cause the fire to come back into life again – with warmth and flame – which means that we can look to the future with hope – to recreate these memories from the past – confident of the presence and the support of the Spirit.