Living the Word for the Feast of Epiphany

How can you prepare to be able to find Jesus?
What gifts will you give Him for His use?
What change does the birth of Emmanuel bring about in you?

For Children
What odd gifts to bring a baby!
Can you find out the significance of each one?
What can you give to Jesus and what can you ask Him to do with it?

For Families

Epiphany is the time when Catholic families bless their homes. It is in the home that we meet and welcome Christ in family and friends, visitors and strangers. It is in the home where we share our faith, where it grows and is lived out.

At the end of the house blessing it is usual to ‘mark’ the home with chalk in the following way: the first letters of the three names of the Magi (though these names are not to be found in Scripture) which are traditionally, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. So C, M, B are inscribed on the door frame. C M B also stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this house.”

These letters (C.M.B.) are inscribed between the numbers of the year. So this year it will say: 20+C+M+B+18

Prayer: A Blessing for the Home.

Oh God,
You revealed your Son to all people
by the shinning light of a star.
We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence.
May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light,
and your truth our benediction:
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Don’t forget to place your Magi in to your crib which traditionally can stay up until the Feast of the Presentation on the 2nd February.



Living the Word this Week 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

All these parables! And still more to come.

I wonder what it is I need to know about the Kingdom? What is it about these …is likes that challenge me?
I love the way that they speak to all of us, at work, at home, women, men and children.
Praying with Gospel I read that these particular similes do different things.
Jesus telling us to wait, that only the farmer is to judge invites us to discernment.
Discernment of spirits as Ignatius teaches is to ask ourselves where God is in any particular choice or decision. Through prayer we can learn to detach ourselves from the outcome therefore allowing us to decide in freedom.
This is what the Kingdom is like, choosing God and God’s will for us which we know is always for our best.
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The mustard seed challenges us to come to a full mature faith that is fully grown.
when I work with parents, they often worry about the faith of their children. Yet it is natural for the next generation to question and more likely than not, to move away from their parents beliefs and values. Not only is that a natural stage of development it also enables our young people to enter into their own relationship with the Lord Who loves them beyond measure, Who calls them Beloved. Not a mediated love of one step removed but on God’s own terms for them. We are God’s children, not God’s grandchildren.
Unfortunately for any of us to really mature in our faith, as laity we have to walk the path on our own, seeking out ways to study, books to read, asking questions and having courageous conversations. The Priority of Adult Formation as set out by the Bishops’ Conference is in name only as very little formation is on offer. Thank the Lord for Faith Friends and Soul Sisters!
This is what the Kingdom is like, living with a mature and adult faith aware of our dependence on the One who loves us, knowing we are saved and greatly loved.
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The yeast calls us to transform our lives . We can only do this of course when we lean in to the Holy Spirit, by surrendering our will to the Triune God and that takes courage and trust.
This in what the Kingdom is like, living fully transformed by love.
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For us to answer the call to bring about the Kingdom we must have an idea of what the Kingdom is. I hope that the questions below might help us all to reflect a little and may these parables come alive in us and all those we encounter today.
Living the Word this week…
The Kingdom is like…a field of good seed; a mustard seed; and yeast.
Which one speaks most to you, and how does it help you in your faith?
What does it mean to you when you pray ‘Our Father…Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’?

Have you ever seen a mustard seed and the plant it grows in to? If not see if you can find some pictures.
Why do you think Jesus uses this to try to explain the Kingdom of God?
What does yeast do? How does this help you to know the Kingdom of God?
Planting seeds and making bread are everyday, unexceptional things. Yet Jesus uses them to describe the Kingdom of God.
How do you reflect the Kingdom in the ordinariness of being a family?
Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the many varied ways that You use to help us understand Your message. The Kingdom is like…a field of good seed, which calls us not to judge but to discernment.
A mustard seed which calls us to grow to our fullest potential in You.
And yeast which calls us to transform ourselves and all whom we encounter.
May we, each in our own way, answer Your call to build Your Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in Heaven.’

Living the Word 15th Week of Ordinary Time

Oh! How many times have we heard this story? And not only at Mass; for it is used to prepare children for Sacraments; in schools, prayer services; liturgies as well as one I had to learn by heart for my RS O’Level. Preparing for Mass I was immediately transported to my 15 year old self mixing up the types of ground with their meanings, destined to get it perpetually wrong. It was a painful memory which for a while stopped me from engaging with the Gospel.

Yet I know that every time we pray with Scripture God speaks to us, giving us what we need when we need it. There was something in this Gospel that we –or maybe I – need to hear today.

I remembered the General Directory of Catechesis (GDC) uses this parable as a spring board.

As disciples we are called to sow the seed, to be actively engaged in evangelisation.

God is the sower, Jesus, the Logos is the Seed. To evangelise effectively we must have a personal relationship with the Living Lord, we must nurture the seed within us, allowing it to effect all we do.

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“Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.

But we have to be aware of the banquet and recognise it’s deliciousness before we can invite others. So today I hope that these reflective questions help to refresh your taste-buds…so that in your work you can invite others.

Living the Word this week…
When you leave your home how do you respond to those who wait to hear God’s Word?
Where are you aware of the Word being eaten up, or of the shallow soil, or thorns in your life?
How does God’s Word take hold and grow in your life?
Find out why Jesus spoke in parables. Which is your favourite one?
How would it feel to see seeds you had planted be treated in this way?
How can it help you to listen more fully to the Readings at Mass?
What do you need to attend to so that your family is rich soil for the Word?
Prayer ~ Christine Longhurst (adapted)
O God,
We gather together in Your presence with expectation,
hungry for an encounter with You,
eager to hear Your Word.
Open our eyes and ears to the presence of Your Holy Spirit.
May the seeds of Your Word scattered among us
fall on fertile soil.
May they take root in our hearts and lives,
and produce an abundant harvest
of good words and deeds.

Living the Word: 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time (really!)

Sorry for the confusion, here are the reflective questions for Sunday 2nd July!

The joy of working a week ahead!

Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, it can be difficult to recall the Gospel from Sunday.
But if we can’t remember it it can not feed us, and nourishment is exactly what the Good News is to be for us.
Here are some reflective questions to enable you to chew over the message held in the Gospel.
After all we need the Gospel to sustain us daily not just on Sunday, for the Good News and Eucharist are both food for the journey.
Living the Word this week
The words of Jesus seek to expand our idea of love, it is to be more than our experience of love.
What limits the way you love the Triune God?
What are the crosses you are being asked to take up in your life?
How might you express your love for God?
How do you show your family you love them?
How can you show that love to those who are not in your family?
Familial love is not the limit but an expression of how we are to love God, for God is more than created thing.
In what ways does the love for your family lead you to love God and therefore serve others?
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Prayer by Anne Osdieck  

For the homeless it is a shelter.
For the lonely it’s just a visit.
For the hungry it’s a meal
For one who stumbles it is helping hands.
For the thirsty, just a drop water.

O God,
you ask little of us.
You bless us, when we give
and also when we receive.
Please let us have a cup of cold water.

And let us not ignore
those souls that thirst for you. Amen.

Living the Word this week: 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, it can be difficult to recall the Gospel from Sunday.
But if we can’t remember it it can not feed us, and nourishment is exactly what the Good News is to be for us.
Here are some reflective questions to enable you to chew over the message held in the Gospel.
After all we need the Gospel to sustain us daily not just on Sunday, for the Good News and Eucharist are both food for the journey.
Where does your life give praise to the Lord of heaven and earth?
What burdens are you able to surrender to the Lord?
What does it mean for you to accept the Lord’s yoke, even if it is easy and light?
The Gospel tells us that it is to you that the Father reveals things.
What has God shown to you?
What would you ask Jesus to teach you?
What can you learn about the Kingdom from your children?
The holidays are almost here. How can you find time to answer the invitation to Come to the Lord and rest together to refresh your faith?
Dear Lord,
no one can carry two yokes.
To take up Your’s we must put our own yoke down:
a yoke that is heavy, burdensome, that restrains us and keeps us slaves.
And that needs us to come to You with a childlike trust.
Then it is possible to put down our burdens, surrender ourselves to You, knowing You only want our best.
Harnessing our will to Yours may we learn from You how to live as You intend.
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Have a sated and blessed week.

Living the Word part 2, 12 Sunday of Ordinary Time

Each week I prepare a set of reflective questions for the parish based on the Gospel. Beginning on the Monday, I pray, read and reflect on God’s Word for the coming Sunday.

Sometimes the questions are obvious and are formed with little effort, sometimes they take longer, resulting in me sending them to the parish secretary later than either of us would like!

Last week, in the light of recent events in London the Gospel was tough reading.

At Mass on Sunday we were joined by Jessica’s family and on hearing the priest reading the Gospel, I realised that I was writing not only for those in the parish but particularly for her family. Jessica has been missing since the Grenfell Tower fire on 14th June. Her aunt is a member of our faith community at Corpus Christi, Brixton, and Mass was being offered for their intentions.

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I was asked to proclaim the first Reading…Jessica’s mother sat in front of me and I found myself reading to her ‘But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion’ willing her to to take them to heart.

We can not help but wonder where is God when terrible things happen and while we know that God is right there with us, in our pain, our grief, our bewilderment, we also don’t know that too. We need to be reminded, by those who hold us in our grief, those who love us, those who pray with and for us.

Only then can we hear the opening words of the Gospel with any hope of understanding how to…’Fear no one’. 

And there is hope too in the words that follow ‘Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.’ Those responsible for the fire will be found out, they will be found wanting and justice will prevail, and hopefully not only at the end of time!

Yet for Jessica’s family I can only imagine how hollow the next part of the Gospel must have sounded: ‘ do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;’.

Though missing we hold the hope that Jessica will be found because we know nothing is impossible to God. We also know that death is not the end, but it sure feels like it at the time.

When I have grieved over the death of a loved one I was broken and I was afraid, afraid that I would not be whole again. In my grief, sometimes the promise of heaven was not enough. Others held that reality for me until my grief allowed me to hold it for myself.

I hope that Jessica’s family know that we hold that reality for them and will continue to do so for Jessica is ‘worth more than many sparrows.’ 

The Gospel holds no magic formulae for Jessica’s family, but it does offer hope.

I don’t know why this happened and the Gospel offers no answers. It does not make sense, it is not fair, it is not right.

The only thing I can say with certainty is that God is there in the midst of it, Emmanuel lifts His voice with ours when we rail and shout at the unfairness, the utter unfairness of what has happened.

Had I been preparing Sunday’s homily that is what I would have said. I hope that all of you find some solace and comfort from these reflections. It was a privilege to worship and pray with you on Sunday.





Living the Word in the 12th Week of Ordinary Time

Living the Word this week…
In the light of recent events how do you respond to Jesus’ words?

What are you being invited to speak in the light and proclaim from the housetops?

How will you acknowledge Christ to those you encounter?

How does it feel to know that God knows you so well that He knows every hair on your head?
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You are special to God like no one else. How does this help you to love yourself?
How might you talk to your friends about Jesus?
We all have secrets, skeletons in the cupboard, what drives that secrecy?
Can you bring them before the Lord responding to the invitation to ‘Fear no one’?
How might you rejoice in how much you are loved and known by the Lord?
Prayer inspired by Psalm 130 adapted from Christian Aid.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voices!
Above the sound of terror and the weeping of those bereaved,
hear our earnest prayers!
We look on in horror at children killed, homes and schools hit,
smoking rubble.

We listen in fear to voices speaking defiance,
vowing revenge, claiming violence as a solution.
We mourn with
all who have lost loved ones,
all who have everything,
all who will lie down in fear this night.

We wait for the Lord, our souls wait,
and only in the Prince of Peace can we hope;
our souls wait for the Lord,
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch in fear for what destruction the morning’s light will show.

May the horrors of these days give fresh determination to the peacemakers.
And may we see conflict here no more. Amen

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