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See bulletin below for Church opening times
See bulletin below for Church opening times
Fr Hugh’s Homily for 2nd Sunday in Lent
Did you know that this is London Fashion Week? Apparently 5000 journalists turn up for this, or I guess, watch online this year. Looking at the clothes, it is hard to see how, unless you were a model or a certain age and size, you would be able to wear much of it, but it makes a lot of money, so plenty of people must be interested. I have to admit that I have never been at the height of fashion, unless somehow fashion has come round in full circle. I don’t think my 70s velvet jacket that I was so proud of then has ever made it back though. Yet what we wear is important to the extent that it says something about us, even if we do not realise it or want it to. People judge us by it, and comment upon it. Sometimes fairly, sometimes not. Did you have to wear that? Could you not have made a bit more effort? Or, like my Mum, ‘I am not taking you to town in those trousers.’ (That was some years ago I have to say.) All of these I have had said to me. We can see whether people are interested in looking smart. Does it matter? In some cases it does, it is a matter of respect. It shows that we have made an effort for them. Then sometimes we wear clothes as a statement about ourselves, to make a point that this is me. Perhaps as a protest. So clothes can be important. The Bible refers to Jesus’ clothes at certain important moments. They become an outward expression of what is happening to him….
LENT FAMILY FAST DAY is Friday 26th February: Abdella lives in an extremely remote and mountainous part of Ethiopia. It takes him ten hours a day to collect water. He says his life is being wasted as he has no time for anything else. Give today to reach vulnerable communities around the world with water and to provide other vital support.
The parish website now has a new ‘Stations of the Cross’ section. There are photos of all 14 stations in the church each with a voice recording by Fr Hugh.
To view this devotion, please visit the parish website and click on ‘Stations of the Cross’ in the menu bar or click the link below.
Fr Hugh’s Homily for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are two Ben Hur films, both usually on the TV at Christmas and I much prefer the old one with Charlton Heston even if they say that if you watch the chariot race carefully you can see a red Fiat in the corner. But at one point he goes off to find his mother and daughter who have been exiled to the leper caves (his sister somehow still managing to look very beautiful), and much to their horror he goes in and carries his Mum to Jesus for healing. It is hard for us to imagine the fear that leprosy instilled in people. Today’s fear of Covid is nothing like the terror leprosy provoked in people. So any one showing symptoms was immediately chased out of the community. They rang bells as we know shouting, unclean, unclean, giving people time to avoid them. In the church at St. Michael’s-on-Wyre there is a leper’s squint in one corner where communion or simply food could be left for lepers to collect. This was and is nothing new. 500 years before Jesus, possibly more, the same instructions to leave the community are being given in the first reading, and for reasonable medical reasons at the time. So when the leper approaches Jesus, and he would still be kneeling at a distance, when he asks, ‘Do you want to heal me,’ it is not just about does Jesus want to but will he actually do it. Will he get close enough even if it makes him unclean and may infect him? ……
Fr Hugh’s Homily for Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Just typical, those men heal mother-in-law just so that she can get supper on the table.” That can be an immediate response to this gospel story. However let’s look at the whole picture. Concentrate on the last part for a moment. Jesus goes up to a lonely place to pray. Always a distant place, one where he can find some peace. What is prayer for him? We know from the number of times he does this that he cannot manage without it. The peace he finds gives him the opportunity to be at one with his Father. It is clear that this relationship is Jesus’ powerhouse. Just him and his Father together. This is him recharging his batteries. It gives him strength. After facing a sea of sickness, of poverty and worry, days of being with the mentally ill, as with any person, it takes its toll. More so because of his love for each of these people. Because of his understanding, his compassion for each, which the disciples don’t really understand as they are often happy to send people away, Jesus is very much alone in his compassion and connection with each person in the deepest sense…..
Fr Hugh’s Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exorcism is the heart of today’s gospel. The word ‘exorcism’ often gets people very excited, often people with no knowledge about it at all but are thrilled at the idea, perhaps after watching some Hollywood production as The Exorcist, or The Rite, or Possession. Some Christians have no problem with this these days, but for others it is hard to relate it to today. The way possession or illness is seen in the Bible is as the result of sin or the fact that it is the devil at work, which again many find difficult these days. When I was working with the homeless in St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London the old guys would often have fits as a result of drink or untreated problems. One of my fellow members of staff had been an evangelical Christian but became a Catholic, bringing with him many of his old ways (not that some Catholics would not have agreed with him). One day I found him praying over an old guy who had had a fit that the devil might leave him. As someone who has epilepsy I suddenly found this incredibly offensive and launched into the poor guy accordingly, though he was only doing what he thought would help and was right. And that is the problem with the gospel sometimes it can seem offensive….
Fr Hugh’s Homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the 1690s Mary Wharton, a very young great heiress, was pulled out of her coach, abducted by a Scottish soldier and forcibly married. His defence was that as this was allowed in Scotland so he thought it was all right in England. Strangely that bit of his defence worked. But then aristocratic fathers got a bit fed up with daughters being carried off, so Lord Hardwick passed a law forbidding it in 1753, but it did not apply to Scotland hence Gretna Green and getting married over the anvil, which survived in a way until 1940. Of course for the aristocracy marriage did not have a lot to do with love, it was mainly about money and land, about possessions and possession. In his recent letter on St. Joseph, who is often called ‘chaste,’ Pope Francis redefines chastity. He calls it ‘freedom from possessiveness’ in every sphere of one’s life. Only when love is chaste, free of possessiveness, is it really love. Then he goes on to say that this is how God loves us. He loves us but lets us be free even to go astray, and even to set ourselves against him. The Pope calls Joseph’s love just this, a loved of extraordinary freedom that never makes himself the centre of things….
Fr Hugh’s Homily for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
We were on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and strolling through Nativity Square in Bethlehem and we came across a large group of people who were holding a demonstration in a very pleasant and well-ordered way. It was Pax Christi (the UK Christian Peace Association) and Pat Gaffney, the last chair, was in the centre of the group. They were there praying for peace in the Holy Land. Of all the things you might associate Bethlehem with throughout its history, peace is really not one of them, except for the angels declaration at Jesus’ birth. Every group has fought over it and to be honest though not as bad as the battles within the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the various Christian religious groups are not known for their peaceful living together. But looking around Bethlehem that day, sitting outside the cafes, Muslim and Christian women and men, some of the women veiled some not, were sitting together enjoying a drink of some sort and more importantly a chat. So in Bethlehem you have a town, surrounded by walls to keep people in, erected by people who might hate you, walls that are born of violence, but within the town you find certain little oases of peace. People of different religious faiths living together. Not without problems, but able to talk….
Fr Hugh’s Homily for The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Walking through the National Gallery in London, as you turn into one room you are hit by the sight on the far wall of Piero della Francesca’s painting of Jesus’ baptism. It hangs alone, and though no one is looking out of the picture, directly at you, it seems to draw you to it. Remember that these artists were working for churches and Catholic leaders of society, and the painting had to hold a message, a gospel message. Just like a gospel, the painting was trying to teach the viewer about Jesus, if only because so many of the public could not read. Jesus stands in the middle of the painting, John the Baptist to one side. Three angels are on the left, introducing us to the fact that God is directly involved here. Behind the two human figures is another young man, taking off his clothes, getting ready to be baptised. Showing us that Jesus was one among many…..