Friday 30 September 2011

Requiem of Fr Cyril Baxter, O.Carm.

Homily given at the Requiem Mass for Fr Cyril by the Prior Provincial, The Very Rev. Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm.

We have come to say farewell to our brother Cyril; Jack to his family. Cyril chose the scripture we have just heard: Isaiah telling us of God’s faithfulness with a care as beautiful as a mother’s nurturing, while Paul writing to the Corinthians speaks of a longing for fulfilment so that we can come to everlasting life.

John’s Gospel gives words of reassurance about our home in heaven with the Father, saved by Christ in the power of the Spirit. Cyril comes before God wanting to do God’s will.
Cyril was determined, dogged, kind and idiosyncratic, and as we look at his life it was very much shaped by The Little Way. He was faithful and focused, and the faith that he came to as a young man grew and flourished over his fifty and more years in Carmel.

Cyril grew up in a solid hard-working Bradford family. His father’s sense of social justice led Cyril to Marxism, and then to the Gospel. After school Cyril did his National Service in the Royal Army Service Corps and then became an executive officer in the Ministry of Pensions.
In 1958 Cyril came to Aylesford as a voluntary worker and after that applied to join the Order. He did his postulancy in Llandeilo and entered the novitiate in 1959; fellow novices included Piet Wijngaard and Pat O’Keeffe.

For the next decade or more Cyril was part of the Aylesford community using his clerical skills as bookkeeper. He was seconded to Sant’Alberto in Rome for a short while but this was
not a happy experience. In1973 Cyril felt called to priestly ministry and he began a time of study first of all at Aberystwyth and then Rome. Cyril seemed to have a special liking for philosophy, especially metaphysics. After ordination in 1980 Cyril ministered in Aylesford, and then in Hazlewood, and when Hazlewood closed he became part of the York community. While in York Cyril’s ministry brought him into contact with the nuns at Thicket where he is remembered as a kind and helpful confessor. In 2001 Cyril was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good. Cyril asked to spend his last months at Aylesford. However, the illness was kept at bay and Cyril was to live on for another ten years. He was not to enjoy the best of health but he had a good quality of life. During this time he was helped by Sister Beth and Jackie. In these last years he was faithful to community prayer and maintained an attitude of cheerfulness. In the last year or so he became very fragile and less mobile. In the weeks before his death he felt ready to go to the Lord and he shared these feelings with those who visited him.

It was fitting that Jackie could be with him as he died, a presence of friendship, as he was to the One who is Love. Cyril has left us a way of living the Gospel that was faithful and simple. He had an amazing innocence and also stubbornness. He did not always see the sense of things but he was consistent. There was no malice in him and he was not afraid to be himself. I will remember the smile and the determination with which he would set off walking. Cyril has finished his journey here with us, may he come before the living God and be graced with eternal life.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

SCYS at Aylesford

Yesterday the lovely team of the Southwark Catholic Youth Service came to visit from their home in Whitstable. It was the feast day of their patron and a lovely day was had by all. The team celebrated a Mass together, did a variety of the excercises they will be doing with the young people who will go to their centre on retreat and took the time to be still and aware of God's presence.

Please keep the SCYS team in your prayers as they begin to minister to the young people of the Southwark diocese over the coming year. 

Tuesday 27 September 2011

The cost of faith

An Iranian pastor could be executed if he refuses to give up his faith. Rev Yousef Nadarkhani has twice refused to recant his Christian faith during two court hearings held in Rasht, Gilan Province on 25 and 26 September. Sources close to Christian Solidarity Worldwide indicate that recanting will again be demanded at sessions scheduled for 27 and 28 September, and that if he continues to refuse, he will be executed thereafter.

Pastor Nadarkhani was tried and found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam) in September 2010 by the court of appeals in Rasht. The verdict was delivered verbally in court, while written confirmation of the death sentence was received nearly two months later. At the appeal in June 2011, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s sentence, but asked the court in Rasht, which issued the initial sentence, to re-examine whether or not he had been a practicing Muslim adult prior to converting to Christianity. The written verdict of the Supreme Court’s decision included provision for annulment of the death sentence if Pastor Nadarkhani recanted his faith.

Following investigation, the court in Rasht has ruled that Pastor Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim adult before becoming a Christian. However, the court has decided that he remains guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry. Pastor Nadarkhani’s lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, has made it clear to the court that the repeated demand for recanting is against both Iranian law and the constitution. The court replied that the verdict of the Supreme Court must be applied, regardless of the illegality of the demand.

The death sentence for apostasy is not codified in the Iranian Penal Code. However, using a loophole in Iran’s constitution, the judges in Rasht based their original verdict on fatwas by Ayatollahs Khomeini, the 'father' of Iran’s revolution in 1979, Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and of Makarem Shirazi, currently the most influential religious leader in Iran.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, of the Church of Iran denomination, was arrested in his home city of Rasht on 13 October 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. He was initially charged with protesting; however the charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelising Muslims. His lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, a prominent Iranian human rights defender, is also facing legal difficulties. On Sunday 3 July a court in Tehran sentenced Mr Dadkhah to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime". He is currently appealing the sentence.

CSW’s Special Ambassador Stuart Windsor said: “CSW is calling on key members of the international community to urgently raise Pastor Nadarkhani’s case with the Iranian authorities. His life depends on it, and we have grave concerns regarding due process in this case, and also in that of his lawyer, Mr Dadkhah. The verdict handed down to Pastor Nadarkhani is in violation of the international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion. It also violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

Source: Independant Catholic News

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Funeral Arrangements for Fr Cyril Baxter, O.Carm.

Fr Cyril's body will be received into the Choir Chapel of Aylesford Priory at 6.30pm on Wednesday 28th September with a service of Evening Prayer

The Prior Provincial, Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm, will preside at the Requiem Mass at 11.30am in the Choir Chapel of Aylesford Priory on Thursday 29th September. Mass will be followed by the internment of Fr Cyril in the Province Cemetery at Aylesford Priory.

Please keep Fr Cyril and all those who mourn him in your prayers.

Day of Prayer for Peace

Today is the International Day of Prayer for Peace organised by the World Council of Churches. It is also the United Nation Peace Day. Many vigils and prayer events are taking place around the world from now until the end of the week.

In London on Friday, 23 September at 7.30pm there will be Prayers for Peace in the World with Songs from TaizĂ© at St Dominic’s Priory Church, Southampton Road NW5 4LB. Further details from Marion Hill 020 7722 2965 Email

On Sunday, 25 September 2011 from 3-5pm there will be Multi-Faith Service of Prayers for World Peace at the Peace Pagoda and Dojo, Battersea Park, London. All are welcome. The event has been organised by Westminster Interfaith and Nipponzan Myohiji. For further details contact: Jon Dal Din, Tel: 075 2775 8729 Email: or visit:

The WCC peace page can be found at:

Sunday 18 September 2011

Home Mission Sunday - A different perspective.

The Archbishop of Canterbury met comedian, writer and broadcaster Frank Skinner "In Conversation" at Canterbury Cathedral on Friday evening.

Archbishop Rowan and Skinner had encountered each other before, but this was the first time they'd sat down for an in-depth exchange of views on the state of Christianity today.

Skinner, a practising Catholic, returned to the church in his late 20s after a period "in the wilderness" and says the years spent examining his faith have made him better able to defend it. "I think there is a responsibility for any believer in the 21st century to be able to fight their corner."

Talking to Dr Williams, Skinner described himself as "a tough crowd" when listening to a sermon, and said that priests don't try hard enough to make an impact when preaching - prompting an audience member to ask if his sense of frustration might be God's way of calling him to do better.
To listen to the conversation follow the link.

Fr Cyril Baxter, R.I.P.

The Aylesford community are sad to announce the death of Fr. Cyril Baxter, O.Carm., on the afternoon of Saturday 17th September, aged 84.

Fr. Cyril was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. He made simple profession of vows in 1960, and solemn profession three years later. Following studies at St. Mary's College, Aberystwyth and the Beda College, Rome, he was ordained priest in 1980.

Fr. Cyril was a member of various communities in a variety of ministries. When he was diagnosed with serious illness in the 1990s, he asked to spend his final years at Aylesford Priory. Though his active ministry became restricted by his illness, he was a valued member of the community. In the last few weeks, when his illness required constant nursing, he moved to a nearby nursing home where he died peacefully, supported by the brothers.
Details of his funeral will be posted shortly.

May Fr. Cyril rest in peace, and see God face to face. 

Saturday 17 September 2011

The Clothing of Novices

During evening prayer on the 16th September, four young men were received as novices into the Carmelite Order and clothed in the Carmelite habit. With Fr Wilfrid, the Prior Provincial away, Fr Damian was appointed as his delegate and presided over the ceremony.

After the Scripture reading each candidate was called forward and asked by Fr Damian

'Brother, what do you seek?'

The candidates responded -

Drawn by God's love, we have come here to live the Carmelite way of life.  I ask you to teach me to follow Jesus Christ:  obedient, chaste and poor.  Instruct me in the way of the Gospel so that observing your Rule and Constitutions I may live constantly in the presence of God.  Guided by the Holy Spirit to serve the Church, may we be one in mind and heart as Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel

Kurt, Severin, Roy & Jacek

Then Fr Damian gave a brief homily and the candidates prayed the following prayer and were clothed in the habit by representatives of their home provinces

Lord, grant that I may put on the garments of kindness, compassion, meekness, patience, Forgiveness and, above all, love; for love binds us as one and completes the clothing. May I do all things in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, giving thanks and praise to the Father through him.  Amen.

Then after giving a sign of peace to all the friars present, the new novices took their place in choir.

Pictures: Aylesford Community.

Homily given by Fr Damian Cassidy, O.Carm at the clothing of Novices.

May I begin by welcoming you here to Aylesford. We are very happy that you are here and please be assured of the prayers of all the brothers here, and of those who cannot be present this evening. I also welcome, Sandro, Roman and Gunter who represent the provinces of Malta, Poland, and Upper Germany.

Our life of faith is begun with a set of questions that seem to follow us through some important moments in our life. At baptism, confirmation, those celebrations of commitment and covenant  we are asked three questions that can be paraphrased as - Who are you? What do you want? Where will that get you?

A moment ago each one of you was called forward by your name. You have come to us with a life already begun. With a story and a culture that is represented by your name, your unique personhood and experience. In this we have begun to know who you are.

Then I asked you ‘what do you seek?’  The response you gave was rooted in love and obedience,  ‘Drawn by God’s love, we have come to live the Carmelite way of life.’ The invitation of love has enkindled in each of you a desire to do God’s will and to grow in this love. So what does this response require of you.

 Last year and on this day in Bellahouston Park in Scotland Pope Benedict spoke to the young people of this island. He said,I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and of yourselves.’ So how can we live authentically the call of Christ to be who we were created to be.

First, you will to come to know God more deeply. You will find that it is in prayer that you will find him. Our world needs men and women who are convinced of God’s love and who are prepared and courageous enough to proclaim that love that they know and believe in to a world that is often starved of an authentic experience of love. Like your Carmelite brothers and sisters, you are here to seek God, but we seek him in the knowledge that we have been found by this love that has called us here.

Secondly, you will learn about yourselves. You will come to identify and name your hungers, your poverty, your gifts, your talents, your prejudices, your potential, your beauty and worth. In this task, there is little chance of escaping. St Paul reminds us that we are a God’s works of art. Community, as you will discover, is the hammer and chisel, smoothing down the rough edges of our personalities. You will have to discover who you are, and you may find what you discover surprising and at time uncomfortable.

Thirdly, you will learn how to live in community. We will come to know one another well. You will learn that community demands patience, tolerance, generosity and respect. It would be unnatural if we all got on with one another, or always agreed with each other – I think that it would also be quite boring! So it would be a surprise if this year went by without anyone annoying us, upsetting us or getting on our nerves. Remember, that if someone is getting on your nerves you are almost certainly getting on theirs. Each one of us here is in someway wounded. We carry that scars and wounds of disappointment and some of these wounds are deep. You are not joining a community of saints. We are very human, but we desire God and we desire God’s will and in this we honour God and surrender ourselves to his love. You will discover amongst the brothers, as I have, deep affection and concern for each other.

 This growing knowledge of God, of yourself and of your neighbour is a lifelong journey and it will lead you to a deeper love of God, of yourselves and your brothers.

 Finally, I would like to quote Cardinal Basil Hume. Basil Hume was a Benedictine monk and abbot of his community in Ampleforth before becoming Archbishop of Westminster. When clothing some new novices for his community he concluded with these words.

Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Take life seriously, take God seriously. But don’t, please don’t, take yourselves too seriously!

Friday 16 September 2011

Brother, what do you seek?

Please pray for four young men who will be received into the novitiate and receive the Carmelite habit at Aylesford today.

Brothers, what do you seek?

Drawn by God's love, we have come here to live the Carmelite way of life.  I ask you to teach me to follow Jesus Christ:  obedient, chaste and poor.  Instruct me in the way of the Gospel so that observing your Rule and Constitutions I may live constantly in the presence of God.  Guided by the Holy Spirit to serve the Church, may we be one in mind and heart as Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Mary's Meals in Somalia

Mary's Meals Volunteer with the food for 200000 meals in Magadishu

By Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow in Mogadishu 7:02PM BST 09 Sep 2011

The gargantuan cargo plane sat contentedly on the runway at Kamuzu International Airport, Malawi's international airport, it's enormous belly filled with 20 tonnes of porridge.
Know in Malawi as Likuni Phala, this very nutritious porridge is what we use to provide children in Malawi with daily school meals.
Normally Mary's Meals buys food from within the country in which we are working so that we support the local economy, and that food can be transported in all sorts of ways.
Trucks, donkeys, small boats and dugout canoes are amongst the forms of transport I have seen employed to move our food to the schools where it is eaten by hungry children.
This though, is the first time I have seen our food loaded onto a cargo plane. But this time, the Likuni Phala, whose ingredients are grown here in Malawi is not destined for children in this country, but instead for those starving thousands of miles to the north, in famine ravished Somalia
As we fly towards Mogadishu I read the latest depressing UN bulletin stating that 4 million people in Somalia are now at risk of starvation, 750,000 of them imminently.
Tens of thousands have already died, around half of them children. Our plane touches down in Mogadishu beside white beaches and a blue sea but as we descend the steps from the plane, the brief illusion of holiday resort evaporates as we are confronted by a broken plane, shot down some years previously as it took off.
Our party, consisting of doctors and journalists, is transported by convoy away from the airport. Our security, provided by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, is reassuringly robust.
Pickup trucks full of young soldiers brandishing AK47s, take up the front and rear and move us quickly through streets scarred by 21 years of civil war.
A few days previously a Malaysian cameraman had been shot dead on this same route. The recent retreat of al Shabaab from some areas of the city it used to rule has left a power vacuum resulting in a return to local power struggles and less predictable violence. The crowded pavements teem with armed men in various uniforms or civilian clothing. Later that evening as we unpack in our makeshift accommodation a loud and uncomfortably close explosion makes me start. One of our gently spoken Somali hosts turns to me and, as if soothing a small child says: "Don't worry. Don't worry. It was just a bomb."
Our partners here are a South African based organisation called Gift of the Givers. They have been friends of ours for some time in Malawi where they have supported our work by sinking water wells at some of the schools where we provide Mary's Meals.
They have become the biggest African based emergency response organisation in Africa and in recent months have set up an effective organisation in Mogadishu, relying on a mixture of local knowledge, courage and huge public support from South Africa.
They are working to encourage 'African aid for Africa' across the continent and while so far amounts donated are modest they believe they believe they are helping to create a new attitude and sense of responsibility.
Their success in distributing food effectively and safely in Somalia and the fact that they have been sourcing food in Malawi, where we feed nearly 500,000 children every day and have a good relationship with food suppliers, led us to realise we could help the starving people of Somalia simply by buying food for transport directly into Mogadishu.
At Howadaq camp, in an area of Mogadishu recently vacated by all Shabaab, hundreds of women, many holding emaciated children queue for food the food parcels that are keeping them and their families alive. I am delighted to see a large pile of our Likuni Phala, last seen in Malawi three days earlier already being distributed and some of it nearby being by cooked in huge pots and served to children.
This is one of four feeding centres where our food is being distributed by Gift of the Givers and these centres serve a population of 20,000 people who have fled to Mogadishu leaving behind their land and their dead cattle.
Fatima is one of those standing patiently in the queue with two small children. She explains to me that Samson is her son but that Howa dressed in a brown dusty shawl is an orphan whose parents died in the famine. She has seven children at 'home', a small hut she built of sticks, cardboard, discarded plastic and rags. She had to leave Bay – the latest region to be categorised by the UN as suffering from famine – after all ten of her precious cattle died.
She was left with no option but to make the same journey, that at least 100,000 others have made in recent months from rural farms to war weary Mogadishu.
Standing next to Fatima in the queue is Fartune who is holding her very sick child. Pinte's head is far too big for his little body and his swollen eyes can no longer see.
He is three years old and has been sick for one and a half months. Fartune has never had the chance to take Pinte to a doctor or receive any medical help for her child. She tells me she has another three children at home, with whom she walked 165km to get here. I ask her how her other children at home are.
"Yes, they are fine," she smiles sadly. "Apart, from the malnutrition. We never have enough to eat."
And now that we know that we can do it, this becomes our task, these next few months. To continue sending food from Malawi to feed people who will otherwise starve, knowing that every bag of Likuni Phala we can send from Malawi will save lives.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow is founder and CEO of Mary's Meals
If you would like to support the East Africa Emergency Appeal set up by Mary's Meals, please visit the website or call 01838 200605

Monday 12 September 2011

Remembering 9/11

The following homily was written by Deacon Tom Cornell former editor of the Catholic Worker professor of Catholic Social Teaching at the New York Archdiocesan Seminary, for deacon candidates.It was unimaginable yet we saw it with our own eyes. My fellow Catholic Workers in New York City went to our roof only a mile and a half north of the World Trade Center when the first plane struck. Most of us saw it on TV, over and over and over again. They came down, the Twin Towers, they just came down, in smoke and ash and flame, and nearly three thousand souls. It was unimaginable, unforgettable, horrible. We all felt it, an insult to our nation, to our pride, as it was meant to be. Can we forgive such a crime against our people, a crime against our country, a crime against humanity itself, a crime against God? A crime! Not an act of war! When we refer to a “war” against terrorism, remember that the word “war” is used as a metaphor, as in the war against polio or the war against small-pox. To combat crime, we call upon our police and courts, not upon the army!

It does not dishonor the dead or excuse this crime in any degree to ask why they hate us so much. It isn’t our freedoms they hate in the Arab and Muslim world. That’s silly. They don’t give a hoot in hell about how we order our lives, unless it impinges on how they must live their lives.

This is not the time or place for a history lesson, but the gross injuries the West, especially France and England and this country have inflicted upon the Arab and Muslim worlds have been egregious, going back to World War I. We may choose to ignore or forget them but they do not! They don’t care about our freedoms. But we care. We have to care. And about our maimed and dead.

First of all we care about the dead and injured and their families, the workers in the Towers and the firemen and police who lost their lives trying to save others. These people put their lives on the line every day for us. Here in Marlboro we know our police and firefighters. They are our neighbors and friends. That’s not often the case in the City, where I live also. There was a moment in the City when people came together and actually talked to one another on the subways and the street. It didn’t last long, but that loss brought us all together, for a week or so.

As we recovered our equilibrium, feelings of anger, resentment, revenge began to surface. It’s only natural.

But then the words of today’s readings from the Book of Sirach hit us: I didn’t choose these readings. They are assigned by the Church for the Latin rite throughout the world. They are assigned for this day in the Common Lectionary that many Protestants use as well. They are Providential for our condition this day of remembrance.

“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance…. Should a man nourish anger against his neighbor and expect healing from the Lord?”

The Psalm verse is, “The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion.”

Then in today’s Gospel we have the parable of the official who was shown mercy but did not show mercy and Peter’s question to Jesus, “How often must I forgive, seven times?” “No,” Jesus replied, “not seven times but seventy times seven.”

And just before Communion we recite that most dangerous of prayers, the Our Father. Dangerous? Yes. Why? Because we beg God to forgive us as we forgive, that is, the same way, to the same degree that we forgive those who trespass against us. Do we really mean it?

To forgive is not to say,” that’s all right!” It can never be right to kill innocent human beings, never! Cardinal Egan gave us a clue when he preached at St Patrick’s Cathedral the Sunday after the attack, that we must not give way to fear and hatred.

All right! But to forgive? To forgive such a crime?

Forgiveness is hard, very hard. I thought I had forgiven someone who once tried, and failed, to hurt me very badly. I had prayed for her, over and over again. But a few nights ago I dreamt of her for the first, and I hope only time. I cursed her up and down and to hell and back in that dream! So I have to pray some more.

In the immediate aftermath of an attack, it’s natural for us to lose balance, to sink into confusion. Not everyone was confused that day. Those in high places seized an opportunity they had been waiting for, an excuse to attack and invade Iraq. They had planned, determined to do so months if not years before. Iraq had nothing to do with the attack of 10/11, but that didn’t matter. The people were confused and angry. They could get away with it. We now know without any doubt that the nation was led to war by a concert of deliberate lies. We have been paying the price for it ever since, not only monetarily. We have lost twice the number of our fellow citizens in war as we lost in the Twin Towers and many times more maimed, and we have caused at least 100,000 Iraqis and Afghans to die. They tell us we are broke, so we borrowed the money for the war! We pay the price in the loss of the good will of the international community as well.

A friend of mine was attending a wedding in Serbia when the news of 9/11 broke there. It wasn’t long after the US bombed Belgrade. My friend thoroughly expected that at least some in the wedding party would reproach him as an American and say something like, “Now you know what it feels like to be under the bomb!” But no, quite the contrary. Everyone sympathized and offered words of comfort. That would not happen today.

This is not the place to analyze the political, social and economic causes and effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now Libya. But this is the place to examine the spiritual roots of this insanity. Our problems are at root spiritual and must be met with the weapons of the spirit: prayer, fasting and the works of mercy. What pride and arrogance has blinded us to our self-justification in destroying Iraq and pursuing a useless, immoral and unwinnable war in Afghanistan? There is justifiable pride, to be sure, in our American traditions, even as they are being eroded by these very wars. Sinful pride, it is a deadly sin, puts us above the law of nations and above the law of God. “Thou shalt not murder the innocent!” Not even to avenge the innocent.

Is there another way? Let me tell you emphatically that the best thing you can do for your country is to be the best Catholic Christian you can be. And take a lesson from a good Muslim man, named Rais Bhuiyan. He is an immigrant living in Texas, from Pakistan, but he could pass for an Arab to the untrained eye. He was in a convenience store with two Pakistani friends when a man came in, pulled a gun and shot two of them dead. He shot Rais in the face, blinding him permanently in one eye. It was to avenge 9/11, the shooter said, saying that he was an “Arab slayer.” The man, Mark Stroman was his name, was tried for murder in a Texan court, convicted and sentenced to death. Rais spent years in rehab, but when he was strong enough, he campaigned vigorously to save Mr. Stroman’s life. In that he failed. It was Texas, after all. Mark Stroman met his fate in the Texas electric chair.

“I have had many years to grow spiritually,” Rais said. He pledged that he will spend the rest of his life knocking on every door, trying to do the best he can to see that not another human life be lost needlessly and, in his words, “trying to teach people about the healing power of forgiveness.”

Forgiveness, mind you, in the name and spirit of 9/11, “the healing power of forgiveness.

Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, let us learn from our Muslim brother. Have mercy on us and let us be healed. Amen.

Source: Independant Catholic News

Saturday 10 September 2011

Twenty Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Sunday our scriptures speak to us about the necessity of forgiveness. Matthew continues his major Gospel theme with a wonderful story from Jesus about the generosity of God in forgiving us.

There is also a command in this Gospel, as we are forgiven, so we must forgive.

"Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
Matt18: 21-35

Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who ‘forgives’ you—out of love—takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done. Forgiveness, therefore, always entails a sacrifice.
Dag Hammarskold
“Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to his home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it.”
Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia (1980) 13

Thursday 8 September 2011

Feast of Our Lady's Birthday

Add caption
The Annunciation
Thomas Merton, OSCO. 1957

Ashes of paper, ashes of a world
Wandering, when fire is done:
We argue with the drops of rain!
Until one comes Who walks unseen
Even in elements we have destroyed.
Deeper than any nerve
He enters flesh and bone.

Planting His truth, He puts our substance on.
Air, earth, and rain
Rework the frame that fire has ruined.
What was dead is waiting for His Flame.
Sparks of His Spirit spend their seeds, and hide
To grow like irises, born before summertime.
These blue thinas bud in Israel.

The girl prays by the bare wall
Between the lamp and the chair.
(Framed with an angel in our galleries
She has a richer painted room, sometimes a crown.
Yet seven pillars of obscurity
Build her to Wisdom's house, and Ark, and Tower.
She is the Secret of another Testament
She owns their manna in her jar.)

Fifteen years old -
The flowers printed on her dress
Cease moving in the middle of her prayer
When God, Who sends the messenger,
Meets His messenger in her Heart.
Her answer, between breath and breath,
Wrings from her innocence our Sacrament!
In her white body God becomes our Bread.

It is her tenderness
Heats the dead world like David on his bed.
Times that were too soon criminal
And never wanted to be normal
Evade the beast that has pursued
You, me and Adam out of Eden's wood.
Suddenly we find ourselves assembled
Cured and recollected under several green trees.

Her prudence wrestled with the Dove
To hide us in His cloud of steel and silver:
These are the mysteries of her Son.
And here my heart, a purchased outlaw,
Prays in her possession
Until her Jesus makes my heart
Smile like a flower in her blameless hand.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Thought for the Day

Thomas Merton, OSCO

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

Coming up ...

A couple of retreat days are on the horizon. Both take place in the gatehouse here at Aylesford and both will be led by Fr Damian.

Sunday 1tth September. The Eucharist. After the 10.15 Mass a discussion on the action, drama and spirituality of the Mass. The day will finish at about 3pm/

Saturday 17th September. Desiring God's Desire. A day with Thomas Merton. 10am -4pm.

For further information please contact the reception office at The Friars. (01622 717272)

Saturday 3 September 2011

Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

The scripture readings for this Sunday give us an insight into how we might deal with our lives in relation to one another that most of us find delicate ad difficult to deal with. We learn that christian love is not a feeling or an emotion but a responsibility. Am I my brothers keeper? Do I have a responsibility for the behaviour of others in my family, community, workplace? Scripture tells us that we do and that is where the discomfort begins. How then do I address how others are wronging me or others. How do we as a christian community deal with the reality of sin and lovingly lead others to a greater sense of self and the freedoms that can emerge when we seek to be converted. Prepapring my homily for tomorrows eucharist, the following quotes have helped me.

"If anyone tells you that one mistake put you at risk of losing God’s and our friendship and you believe it, then you will inevitably define yourself as a sinner … If religion tells you that even angry and lustful thoughts are sinful then you will come to think of yourselves as sinner … By that definition and by that approach everyone one of us does something wrong probably every day and we’ll never make it. If nothing short of purity and perfection permits us to stand together before the throne of God, then none of us ever will.

But when religion teaches us that God loves the wounded soul, the chastised soul, that out of experience has learned something about its own fallibility and its own limitations, when religion teaches us to stand together in those experiences, when religion teaches us that being human is a complicated challenge and that all of us will make mistakes in the process of learning how to do it right and that we need to stand together in that process, then we become participants in a wonderful adventure. Our mistakes are no longer emblems of our unworthiness, but invitations to grow. We will be brave enough to live and to share the life."

Harold S. Kushner, How good do we have to be

Protect us, Lord, from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope … “
Roman Missal, Communion Rite