Seek comfort from the Holy Angels of God

In Catholic tradition there is the association of different months, and different days of the week with particular devotions, it’s something that you might like to look into a little bit more (https://www.fisheaters.com/week.html). We’re familiar with Fridays being associated with devotion to the Lord’s Passion, Saturdays being days of devotion to Our Blessed Lady and so on… Tuesdays are devoted to the Holy Angels, and  this I find a comforting and encouraging thought at this time. God’s angels are His messengers – the literal meaning of their name – fulfilling His designs and acting as intermediaries between Him and us.

We know that we are surrounded by the angels, and that each one of us has a Guardian Angel to assist us in our needs, most especially as regards the salvation of our soul. There have been many stories down through the ages, both in Sacred Scripture and in the lives of the Saints of the powerful intercession and assistance of these angelic helpers: the ways in which they have provided guidance, spiritual and material benefits, and the ways they have rescued souls from spiritual and physical calamities.

Padre Pio (now St. Pio of Pietrelcina) was renowned for having a particularly close relationship with his guardian angel whom he saw, physically, from a very early age. (https://www.padrepiodapietrelcina.com/en/the-story-of-padre-pio-and-his-guardian-angel/) Now most of us may not have that privilege, but his experience was proof, if we needed it, of the presence of these heavenly messengers around us. Padre Pio often used to say in later life, to his spiritual sons and daughters, who often lived great distances from where he was, to send their guardian angel to him with their prayers and intentions, and he would often reply, by letter, to these sons and daughters of his when the only means of communication on their part had been through their dear angel.

Just thinking about this, my mind shifted to all of those people who are alone and isolated at this time, those who are struggling, perhaps, with loneliness and with anxiety regarding their welfare. I know that there are many human “angels” going about at the moment, doing God’s work, helping others, sacrificing themselves, but we also have the real angels amongst us, with us, keeping us company and protecting us, and we should call upon them frequently for their assistance. Our guardian angel and St. Michael are two whom we should invoke frequently to help and support us, to protect and guide us.

I remember hearing a story of Pope St. John XXIII and his devotion to his guardian angel. Apparently in earlier days when he was a papal Nuncio (ambassador) he would always invoke the help of his guardian angel before going into a difficult meeting, in order to make sure that it went well. He would ask his guardian angel to have a conflab with the guardian angels of those he was about to meet, and ask them to pave the way before their human proteges met. I thought this story was brilliant!

I’m sure we can ask our guardian angels to also take God’s blessing to family members, friends, and loved ones in their isolation, that we can ask these holy helpers to assist them even in their practical needs, and to take to them the warmth of God’s tender love and our love too. This might be especially consoling to us if we have no other means of contacting them at the moment, or if they are a great distance away.

Do pray to your holy guardian angel, not just today, but every day, seek his help and his advice, and entrust yourselves, under God, to his care. No matter who we are or where we are, we always have this special helper at our side, interceding for us and lovingly pleading for our needs before the Throne of God.

Holy angels of God, pray for us!

(I include some relevant videos below for your edification)

God bless you and yours now and always,

Fr. Martin

Be hopeful, take courage, trust in Him!

There’s a lot to be said for seeing the positive side of things when things around us can seen dismal at first glance. I know that some of the positive things we’ve already seen in this short time of facing Covid-19 have been things like the heroism of individuals who sacrifice their own health and well-being to safeguard that of others, a coming together amongst families and friends and within communities, we’ve grown in appreciation of others and of what we have, and prayer has become more important to us: the intimacy we know that we need with the Lord. To be honest, I’ve even heard the birds singing more in the morning, and have appreciated those moments of bright sunshine, and the flowers blossoming in the church garden.

Our Catholic Faith gives us an inherently positive outlook, because our faith is hope-filled. If we can still have hope in the face of death (which we do, because of the Resurrection) then I don’t think that’s there’s anything that can take our hope away. That’s not to say that we won’t struggle, or question at times, but knowing that Jesus has conquered those things that probably seem the darkest in our existence – suffering and death – then we can be sure that He will get us through our present struggles, and that He is with us in the midst of them.

I don’t know if you managed to see the Holy Father giving his extraordinary ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing the other night – a powerful scene in which he walked across a deserted St. Peter’s Square and then concluded by giving Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament to ‘the city and the world’. It was a powerfully moving moment – a vision of hope and light amidst desolation, confusion, and darkness. There was Jesus for us, vulnerable too in the Sacred Host, in all it’s fragility (like us) but awesomely present, too, as the Living God who shines His light upon us, fills us with His blessings, and points the way forward to all mankind.

It is indeed a cliché, but how does one manage without faith in Jesus Christ at a time like this? – We know through Him that God is with us, and that is so precious, so strengthening, so hopeful.

My aunt and uncle finally got back home to Britain yesterday, after having been stuck in the U.S.A. after several weeks’ holiday. I suppose that they felt a great sense of relief returning to their home after all of that uncertainty. There is still much uncertainty in the present climate: loved ones whose health we are worried about, how long all of this will last, will I still have my job, will my company survive this pandemic, how will I cope with the continued isolation and the fear of what might happen to my health… I think these are very natural questions… there is much uncertainty… But one thing we can always be certain of, and one thing that we must constantly cling to is the certainty of our Catholic Faith… the Cross, and the Mysteries that the Church will soon celebrate (albeit with mostly empty churches across the world) give us the certainty that we are loved and cared for by God. When we see, even in our homes, the image of the Son of God nailed to the cross for our salvation then we should be certain that the Lord is at our side in this very moment. Have faith, be of good cheer, trust in the Lord!

Below I’ve posted a beautiful sung version of the Divine Mercy Chaplet which I hope you will enjoy praying along with. The whole thrust of this devotion is trusting in the mercy of God – trust, we’re told, is the vessel by means of which we receive great graces from God.

God bless you and yours and keep you holy and healthy,

Fr. Martin

Live streamed Masses

Whilst I’m afraid I’m not that technologically minded as to live stream Holy Mass there are many who are, and I would encourage you to follow these Masses not only on Sunday but throughout the week as there is much provision being made at this time, thanks be to God. Our own bishop has been live streaming his reflections daily and these are accessible through the diocesan website as well as a 10.30a.m. streamed Mass this Sunday celebrated by Canon Kevin Golden of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee:

Livestream Masses

Fr. Ninian Doohan of St. Pius X, Dundee, has also been streaming many Masses and devotions (novenas, Divine Mercy, etc.) throughout the week and you may wish to join him through his Facebook live streaming:

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCbO5t0PjjqbxKjGVvsL7FZQ

For those who would like a traditional Latin Mass you might also care to look at:

http://livemass.net/

And to help us all at this time, when physically receiving Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not possible, the making of an act of spiritual communion can be a source of grace, if you are watching Holy Mass online then this can be done after the priest has made his communion:

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament.

I love Thee above all things, and I desire Thee in my soul.

Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.

 

 

 

Readings for today’s Mass 29/03/20

Ezekiel 37:12-14

I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live

The Lord says this: I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live, and I shall resettle you on your own soil; and you will know that I, the Lord, have said and done this – it is the Lord who speaks.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 129(130)

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,

Lord, hear my voice!

O let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my pleading.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,

Lord, who would survive?

But with you is found forgiveness:

for this we revere you.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.

I count on his word.

My soul is longing for the Lord

more than watchman for daybreak.

(Let the watchman count on daybreak

and Israel on the Lord.)

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Because with the Lord there is mercy

and fullness of redemption,

Israel indeed he will redeem

from all its iniquity.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Second reading Romans 8:8-11

The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you

People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.

Gospel Acclamation Jn11:25, 26

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;

whoever believes in me will never die.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ!

 

Gospel John 11:1-45

I am the resurrection and the life

There was a man named Lazarus who lived in the village of Bethany with the two sisters, Mary and Martha, and he was ill. It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent this message to Jesus, ‘Lord, the man you love is ill.’ On receiving the message, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified.’

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when he heard that Lazarus was ill he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judaea.’ The disciples said, ‘Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews wanted to stone you; are you going back again?’ Jesus replied:

‘Are there not twelve hours in the day?

A man can walk in the daytime without stumbling

because he has the light of this world to see by;

but if he walks at night he stumbles,

because there is no light to guide him.’

He said that and then added, ‘Our friend Lazarus is resting, I am going to wake him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he is able to rest he is sure to get better.’ The phrase Jesus used referred to the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by ‘rest’ he meant ‘sleep’, so Jesus put it plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.’ Then Thomas – known as the Twin – said to the other disciples, ‘Let us go too, and die with him.’

On arriving, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days already. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said:

‘I am the resurrection and the life.

If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,

and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?’

‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in a low voice, ‘The Master is here and wants to see you.’ Hearing this, Mary got up quickly and went to him. Jesus had not yet come into the village; he was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were in the house sympathising with Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw him she threw herself at his feet, saying, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who followed her, Jesus said in great distress, with a sigh that came straight from the heart, ‘Where have you put him?’ They said, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept; and the Jews said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But there were some who remarked, ‘He opened the eyes of the blind man, could he not have prevented this man’s death?’ Still sighing, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, ‘Take the stone away.’ Martha said to him, ‘Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day.’ Jesus replied, ‘Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said:

‘Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer.

I knew indeed that you always hear me,

but I speak for the sake of all these who stand round me,

so that they may believe it was you who sent me.’

When he had said this, he cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what he did believed in him.

Saturday… Our Lady’s Day

I remember several years ago listening to an exorcist priest, Fr. Chad Ripperger, at a conference in Birmingham. He told us of cases he had experienced where people were particularly harassed by the Evil One and his minions, where their health, their businesses, their families and home lives were under attack and nothing ever seemed to be improving despite their best efforts. He said that in such cases he would recommend those suffering to consecrate all that they are and all that they have to Our Blessed Lady and Her Immaculate Heart, the purpose of the consecration being that She would then defend all of these things as Her own, and with that mighty power that God has given to Her as His Mother protect them and deliver them from the onslaught of the Enemy.

I can’t help but think that this would be the perfect time for us to make or even renew such a consecration, since this is Mary’s Day – Saturday. (I’ve just looked on the internet and found out that today is also the Feast of Our Lady of Castelbruedo, in Catalonia, Spain – an interesting story – https://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/our-lady-of-castelbruedo.html) which also relates to the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Mary is our Mother in the order of redemption, our spiritual Mother, our Advocate, our dearest friend and companion on this journey of life, and She is one who stood at the foot of the Cross and suffered an unbloody martyrdom as Her soul was pierced with the sword, just as Simeon had prophesied in the Temple. She also spent Her time in silent prayer, experiencing the desolation that came after Good Friday, waiting on Holy Saturday in silence and mourning, in quiet contemplation and above all in hope, despite Her Lord and Her Son being in the tomb. Is She not with us now in our desolation, is She not with us now in our separation from the Eucharistic Lord, is She not mourning with us the loss of the One we hold so dear? She is! And She gives us hope, the hope that soon, very soon, we will see Him and be with Him again. But until then we must seek Her company, and join with Her in prayerful and silent waiting. The Church and the world is currently being allowed to experience the Passion of Our Saviour, a Passion that is not fruitless or pointless when we see it and embrace it with Faith, and when we stand in union with Our Blessed Mother.

As She has always done, and as She continues to do in her many approved apparitions, the Blessed Mother calls us back to Her Son ; See what He has done for you, She says to us, See how much He loves you, She implores. Turn to Him with your whole heart! Do whatever He tells you! The Mother loves the Son more than anything, the Mother loves us for the sake of the Son, She wants us to love Him like Her, with the entirety of our being. She knows that He is our salvation, our hope, our peace, and She wants us to share in that joy and union that She has with the Lord which is more precious than anything this world has to offer. She is determined to crush the head of the ancient serpent who seeks to lure us away from Our Lord and Saviour, but She needs our co-operation. When we consecrate ourselves to Her, when we confess our sins and repent of them, and tell Her that we want to love Jesus more than anything, will She not help us? Of course She will! And She will help us in ways we cannot begin to imagine. The Mother is calling us, is calling the whole world to come back to the Son, back to the One through whom all things were made.

Below I will post an act of consecration that I would encourage you to use, either individually or together in your families, try to make that act of consecration today, on Our Lady’s Day. Make a good examination of conscience, make a firm and sincere act of contrition, make a spiritual communion, perform the act of consecration and then, try to say the Holy Rosary – give yourselves and your loved ones to the maternal care of Our Blessed Lady. I will also post a video of the Stabat Mater a beautiful Lenten hymn that was traditionally sung during the Stations of the Cross. God bless you and keep you, and may the Holy Mother of God, our Mother, pray for you and yours and protect you from all harm!

Fr. Martin

An Act of Consecration

O Blessed Mother Mary, Help of Christians, Comforter of the Afflicted, we come before you in praise of your faith and your trust in Almighty God.

The Heavenly Father chose you before time to bear His Son, and to be the worthy Mother of both the Redeemer and of all the redeemed. Today we entrust ourselves to you completely, and implore your motherly prayers and protection, as we offer you ourselves and all that we have; our families, and this parish of St. James and St. Matthew.

We ask you to pray for, and to protect, in the name of your Divine Son, every individual, every family, home and place of work within it. Through your prayers and motherly guidance may we live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus with love and enthusiasm, seeking always to praise and magnify God’s Holy Name in all that we do, and loving God above all else may we turn away from all sin.

Inspire within us a deeper faith, an ardent hope and a more selfless love, so that we may serve Almighty God and the Church your Son has founded and work with Him for the salvation of all.

O Mother of Divine Love, O Cause of our Joy, O Help of Christians, Sovereign Mistress of the Angels, hear the prayer we offer you, and make of us a fitting gift to your Most Holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Join with the Holy Father at 5.00p.m…. Plenary Indulgence

I was also sent this by another priest:

In case you did not know, and would like to take part – or just observe! Good occasion to come together in spirit:

This evening at  18:00 Rome time (so, 17:00 GMT for those of us in the British Isles), the Holy Father will be giving an extraordinary ‘Urbi et Orbi’ address to St Peter’s Square, which will be empty apart from the Crucifix of the Chiesa di San Marcello al Corso, which is associated with a miraculous deliverance of the city of Rome from the plague in 1522, after its 16-day procession around every quarter of the city.

As with every ‘Urbi et Orbi’ speech, an Indulgence is available to all those who receive the Benedictio Papalis (Papal Blessing) at the end, including over TV, wireless, or internet (conc. 4). As most of us cannot receive Holy Communion, only a partial indulgence may be available this time, unless the Church explicitly commutes the usual conditions for a plenary indulgence*, or we could offer the last confession and communion we received for that purpose, assuming we haven’t done so already!

You can watch the Urbi et Orbi speech live, and thereby receive the Benedictio Papalis, here: 

https://youtu.be/5YceQ8YqYMc

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* Usual conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence: one Confession and one Holy Communion (both up-to-20 days before or after the indulgenced act); total detachment from every sin including venial sin