Sixth Sunday of Easter

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Homily by Fr Hugh

It is going to look as though I do nothing but watch Netflix all day, which is not exactly true, however I want to begin with another film.  “The Day after Tomorrow” which is one of those that often pops up on TV when they need to fill the schedule.  Why speak about this one?  Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, looking about 15, are battling with another Ice Age, that has been thrown up by Climate Change, and sweeps down from the north engulfing the northern hemisphere, so that in the end the US president has to beg the Mexicans to let them across the border and settle there.  A lot of good Cgi stuff.  But the message is pretty clear.  It is inverting what is happening now, where what we call the South, Latin America and Africa and Asia, are being pushed to move north.  Often by the results of Climate Change.  Especially in Africa, where the climate is changing fast, from the spread of the Sahara (desertification) that is putting an end to people’s way of life and culture and forcing them to move, and the floods, paradoxically, arriving in East Africa now and before in Mozambique are part of this.  When boats arrive at Italian, Greek, Mediterranean ports full of refugees, knocking on our doors, they are condemned often as Economic Migrants, so not our responsibility, but much of what is driving them to leave is because of what comes out of our chimneys and our exhausts.  “The Day after Tomorrow” is trying to give the wealthy nations (US in this case) an image of what it would be like to have the tables turned…..

Complete Sixth Sunday of Easter Homily by Fr Hugh

 

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Sixth Sunday of Easter Mass Readings

 

Daily Prayers Easter Week 6

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

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george-hiles-sIStm4lm1Co-unsplashHomily by Fr Hugh

The Westmorland County Show, one of our annual highlights, as you know, was a mud bath last year. Diving from tent to tent, skipping the outdoor events as the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling (the embroidered strips have to be seen), and for me it was no loss to miss the horses, and alpacas, or the Australian with performing sheep, we did get to the educational tent with our Primary School, Dean Gibson’s display, which is always good. And hovered under canvas with soggy coffees and hog roasts.

But I did get to see the dry stone wall display, which I always enjoy. You see the walls stretching over fells and wonder how they ever got the stone up there, over Helvellyn’s crags. But when you see the builders in action, the care needed to choose the right stones, different for each part of the wall to make it strong enough to resist all weathers and sheep, it is amazing…

Complete Fifth Sunday of Easter Homily by Fr Hugh

 

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Fifth Sunday of Easter Mass Readings

 

Daily Prayers Easter Week 5

 

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

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bishopA PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE BISHOP OF LANCASTER for Good Shepherd Sunday:

My dear People,  It would be easy to begin by focussing on the problem dominating the news, but that temptation must be resisted. Not long ago the news was dominated by another subject; BREXIT. We got tired of it, made a joke of it, prayed for it to go away, and now look! Living in the world we are affected by the course of current events to a greater or lesser degree, but, as people of Faith, our roots are found in richer soil.  I am writing this as we approach the end of Easter Week. My news is dominated by the fact that Jesus is risen from the dead, and has come back to us. He has not brought a detailed description of ‘life on the other side’. Rather, He brings a simple, one-word message, ‘Peace!’….

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Third Sunday of Easter

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3rd Sunday imageThird Sunday of Easter Homily by Fr Hugh

John Bradburne, was a Cumbrian, from Skirwith near Penrith. In 1979 he was shot near Mutemwa Leper Station in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. After years of searching, with a break for the Second World War, after which he became a Catholic, he ended his life serving those with leprosy, until he was killed in Zimbabwe’s war of independence. His cause for canonisation, being recognised as a saint, began officially last year. When we look at the great saints, Damian of Molokai, again serving lepers, Maximilian Kolbe in Auschwitz, St. Terese in her convent, at the heart of the cause for canonisation is their giving of their lives for others. Saints come in many different shapes and sizes, not all are or have to be recognised by the Church…

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St George’s Day

st georgeMessage from Fr Hugh

Tomorrow is St. George’s Day, which has only comparatively recently become a big event in England.  I am not sure that this is a good thing as it can move from patriotism to nationalism to jingoism to xenophobia very quickly.  But at its best it encourages us to dwell on what is good about our country and there is much that is.  What is good to remember is that St. George was a foreigner.  He came from the Middle East as far as we know. He was a Roman soldier who travelled widely.  He became a patron of many countries at the time of the crusades, and was seen as the epitome of chivalry by many knights, famously, if a little legendarily, rescuing the maiden from the dragon.  Chivalry may often have been more of an ideal than a way of life, but at its heart was living a good life and serving others, defending the weak.  He is  treated as a martyr in Islamic tradition as well, and one who lived with people who knew the disciples.  

As the patron saint of our parish, the other patron being the Holy Trinity, what can we learn from him?  Firstly that he lived in times when where you came from was less of an issue.  As part of the universal Church, borders, boundaries, assessment of others on a ‘use’ basis, can never be right.  The figure of St. George stands, or rides, in defiance of any such narrow vision of our world.  Also, however sorry we may feel for the dragon, St. George represents campaigning against and defeating what is not right, ‘hungering and thirsting for righteousness’ as the Beatitudes say.  In the legend it is of course the damsel in distress he saves, but she represents all those in need, the poor, the disabled, the weak, whoever it is that finds themselves at the mercy of powers around them, those without a voice.  Then St. George meets his death refusing to deny his faith.  Given many a chance to go back to his old beliefs and be safe, he chooses his faith and continues to speak out. 

In these times it can be easy to forget that much is hidden by the current crisis which needs to be remembered.  There are long-standing injustices and inequalities to which we can be tempted to say, ‘Well, we will deal with that later.’  But we have to be alert to the suffering of others and speak out, even if it is unpopular.  There is always a tendency to say, ‘We need to look after ourselves first.’  Natural, but not the line St.George would have taken.  Let us ask for his intercession in these times, that we may have his courage, his faith.

 

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Second Sunday of Easter

ResurrectionSecond Sunday of Easter Homily by Fr Hugh

Netflix is now worth more than some of the big oil companies, as a result of our having to stay indoors.  And it looks as though now they will benefit from another three weeks.  I have to admit I do enjoy an old film, but find it hard to believe that ‘Pretty Woman,’ which I was watching again the other night, is over 30 years old.  For me the Roy Orbison theme tune still sounds good.  So indulge me for a moment as I go over the story. 

There’s two main characters.  Julia Roberts, a young woman who finds herself earning her living on the streets of Los Angeles.  She didn’t intend to end up there, she’s bright and is aware that she could have done better, but that is where she is, and she is in charge of her life in many ways.  She has a flatmate she likes, who is far less capable, spends their rent money on her addiction, but Julia knows that that is just how she is, she forgives her, and takes care of her. She doesn’t judge, she accepts people for who they are. She has her dream, but buries it as impractical…

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Easter Wednesday

Easter WedMessage  for Easter Wednesday by Fr Hugh

The Church treats the whole of this week as Easter Sunday, the octave, the eight days of Easter.  That is not the end of Eastertide of course that goes on till Pentecost. So throughout this week and beyond the greeting is still, ‘Christ is risen, Alleluia!’ although by the end we tend to feel that it is getting weaker, the chocolate eggs were all eaten a while ago.  But we should not.

The fact that Christ is risen should influence all our life. While we read through the accounts of the risen Jesus’ appearances at Mass in the gospel, the first reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles, the story of the early Church. These small communities are experimenting with what it is to be an assembly based on Christ and it does us no harm to look and see what they tried to do.  Essentially to come together to praise God, to break bread together, to care for each other and to share their possessions in a very radical way. To meet together for this as equals even if in the wider world they were not seen as such.

As the Church grew it became harder and harder to live up to these early ideals, but throughout the centuries groups of Christians have tried to refind those early roots, some with Church approval and some not, some in a way that would not be recognised by Jesus and some that would. 

In each era the Church finds itself in a different place, with a different society around it, but the example of the early communities will undoubtedly speak to us. Some of us are more radical and will search for that radical way of life, others less socially radical perhaps might not go so far socially, but might want to find the simplicity of worship. For others the question is simply, when Jesus left us his message of peace, of forgiveness and healing, of respect, of eternal life, what does that mean in my, our, life, lives. 

Perhaps the simplest way to put it is, as Peter found out when he said, ‘I have neither silver or gold, but I give you what I have in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,’ to discover what have we been given by Jesus to offer others today?

Easter Sunday

empty tombEaster Sunday Homily by Fr Hugh

Many people don’t believe in the resurrection. Some are just not interested, for some it simply isn’t rational – it doesn’t make sense. Some, Christians included, don’t see a need for it. Surely Jesus’ message was enough. He taught us how to live and love each other, and as human beings, rational ourselves, we can manage that if we choose to – he was a good man.

As Christians we have a problem with this though. The New Testament, our guide book on ‘How to be a Christian’ has four accounts of Jesus’ life and death and they all end with his resurrection. And at three vital points in particular during the gospels, Jesus tells the disciples quite clearly that he is going to rise again…

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Good Friday

CrucifixionHOMILY FOR GOOD FRIDAY by Fr Hugh

When we look upon the Cross, what do we see? If you have one to hand just have a look, if not imagine it. Have we become too used to it do you think?

What place have nails in a person’s hands and feet? Isn’t that perverse? What place has one human being to to hang another in the air on a cross of wood? Isn’t that grotesque? Can’t we see that this is not normal behaviour? What place has a natural plant that flowers the Spring – we can see it today- What place has it being twisted out of shape and pushed hard onto a person’s head by another human’s hands? Can we see that the image of the Cross has to have the figure Jesus on it to reveal what humans are capable of?

In the words of Isaiah today “so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human,” made so by human hands. The Cross mirrors what we are capable of, when we, loved by God, forget and do our worst.

The history of the 20th century revealed it only too well. Our current history that leaves hundreds of thousands in camps, refugees to drown in the sea, that exploits the wars that put them there, that sells arms for profit that feeds those wars. That takes a beautiful world and mistreats it so much for gain that the prophecy of William Blake of green fields being filled with dark Satanic mills and the conditions they reduced people to, goes on and increases in many countries. That while a global virus shows us how much goodness there is in us, it also reveals the greed that puts people out of work for profit, increases prices in times of shortage, manipulates illness for gain at the expense of life. The Cross questions all this: ‘How could you mar such God-given beauty?” Jesus deliberately descends into our worst depths, mirrors them back to us, and lifts us out from there and restores us to our natural goodness. For we are created good.

 

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Spy Wednesday

Message from Fr Hugh for Spy Wednesday of Holy Week

Kuss_des_judasWelcome or Witaj, which my Duolingo course in Polish tells me means ‘welcome.’ Welcome to Spy Wednesday. (I was doing all right in Polish with the nominative case and then the accusative case which my school Latin helped with, but when I came across the instrumental case I thought this might be the time to give up.) But why Spy Wednesday? Because today’s gospel tells the story of Judas planning the betrayal of Jesus and asking for money for it. Judas is an interesting character. In Matthew’s gospel he meets his end by hanging, which some think is connected to Ahitophel hanging himself in the Old Testament after betraying King David, in the Acts of the Apostles Luke has him falling headlong and his entrails bursting all over the place. Perhaps the details were of little interest to the early writers, what mattered was the betrayal and a grim end that was deserved. Judas had followed Jesus from the start. He was trusted, he looked after the common purse, the treasurer of the disciples. Jesus never loses hope in him. He washes his feet at the Last Supper with the others. But John has him as a thief, a hypocrite, and one whom Satan had entered. A Gospel according to Judas, a Coptic manuscript, has been found from about 280 A.D. which says that Judas was only doing what he had to for salvation history to happen and he is named as a saint. So a mysterious figure renowned for that infamous kiss. But whatever the actual events, it is that kiss that begins the story of the Passion that we follow in these coming days.

 

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