There is still no firm date for when our church will reopen. The procedure for doing so is very complicated and Fr John has received a twenty-seven page document of requirements. The resumption of lockdown in Leicester has complicated things further. When we do reopen, there will be a requirement for us to have two stewards “on duty” to ensure that the strict regulations are observed. In addition, the church will have to be thoroughly cleaned after Mass and so additional cleaners will be required for this task. Please let me know if you are prepared to fulfil either of these functions and I shall pass on your name to Fr John. It looks as if we shall have to book our place before we attend, as we might do in a restaurant or a theatre. However, the centralised website which will enable this to happen is not yet up and running. There will have to be a system in place for those parishioners who do not have access to the internet, but who wish to attend Mass. There will be a strict limit on the number of those who can attend. Lists of those attending will have to be kept for 21 days. You will appreciate that all of this is rather complex and your patience is greatly appreciated. If you have any views on the subject, please let me have them as soon as possible so that these can be relayed to Fr John who, of course, has the added burden of having to organise matters in Syston as well as in Sileby.
Monday 6th St Maria Goretti
Tuesday 7th Feria
Wednesday 8th Feria
Thursday 9th St Augustine Zhao Rong & companions
Friday 10th Feria
Saturday 11th St Benedict, abbot, Patron of Europe
Sunday 12th Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
The first reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah 9:9-10 and indicates that the humility asked for by Jesus is the kind that he himself endured, for he came in meekness and without pageantry, yet his dominion would be to the ends of the earth. The example of the humble servant is the very person of Jesus himself who invites us in the second part of the gospel to come to Him for refreshment and rest.
The Lord says this: Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem! See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be banished. He will proclaim peace for the nations. His empire shall stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.
The second reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 8:9, 11-13 and contains one of the most important yet often misunderstood themes of St. Paul. The Hellenistic dichotomy (contrast between two things that are represented as being entirely different or opposed) between the lower and higher nature is not found here, for flesh and spirit mean the whole man and the whole man stands in need of redemption by Christ. The Pauline teaching is not that part of man is redeemed and part of him is damnable. Rather man's whole personality is redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ. The vocation of the Christian, both "body" and "soul," is to conform his already redeemed person to the same Spirit he has already received at baptism.
Your interests 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, 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. So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.
The Gospel is from St. Matthew 11:25-30.
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
Pagans and Jews had the same hardships of life to face as we have, and even greater ones. They earned their daily bread with the sweat of brow and body. Their illnesses were more frequent and less bearable than ours, for they did not have the medical help that we have. Death came to young and old then as it does now, but for them it was a final parting from loved ones, and no hope of a future happy meeting served to lighten their sorrow. All their crosses were crushing weights, sent to make life more miserable. Life on earth was passed in gloom and darkness and there was no shining star in the heavens to beckon them on or give them hope. Surely God is good to us, to put us into this world at this day and age, and give us the light of faith, and the knowledge of God and of his loving plans for us, which make the burdens of this life so relatively light and even so reasonable for us. We still have to earn our bread. We still have sickness and pains. We still have death stalking the earth, but unlike the people before Christ we now see a meaning to all these trials. The yoke of Christ is not really a yoke but a bond of love, which joins us to him, and through him, to our loving Father in heaven. The rule of life which he asks us to keep, if we are loyal followers of his, is not a series of prohibitions and don'ts. It is rather a succession of signposts on the straight road to heaven, making our journey easier and safer. He does ask us to carry our cross daily, that is, to bear the burden of each day's duty, but once the cross is grasped firmly and lovingly it ceases to be a burden. Ours is a world which is in an all-out search for new idols. It is a world which has left the path marked out by Christ, and forgotten or tried to forget, that man's life does not end with death. To be a Christian and to have the light of faith to guide our steps in this neo-pagan darkness, is surely a gift, and a blessing from God, for which we can never thank him enough. Thank you, God, for this gift. Please give us the grace and the courage to live up to it and to die in the certainty that we shall hear, as we shut our eyes on the light of this world, the consoling words, "come you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you."
St Maria Goretti
St Maria Goretti was born of a poor family in Corinaldi, Italy, in 1890. Near Nettuno she spent a difficult childhood assisting her mother in domestic duties. She was of a pious nature and often at prayer. In 1902 she was stabbed to death, preferring to die rather than be raped.
What follows is an excerpt from a homily at the canonization of Saint Maria Goretti by Pope Pius XII:
"It is well known how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without warning a vicious stranger (actually Alessandro Serenelli who lived with his father in the same house as the Gorettis.) burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: "Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and gives me guidance." With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity. The life of this simple girl - I shall concern myself only with highlights - we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God's grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed and untarnished. From Maria's story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult and hazardous that course may prove. With determination and God's help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer. Not all of us are expected to die a martyr's death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. This demands strength of character though it may not match that of this innocent girl. Still, a constant, persistent and relentless effort is asked of us right up to the moment of our death. This may be conceived as a slow steady martyrdom which Christ urged upon us when he said: The kingdom of heaven is set upon and laid waste by violent forces. So let us all, with God's grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven."
Imprisoned for murder she appeared to Serenelli in his cell and forgave him and he was subsequently converted. Most importantly, he sat next to her mother at the beatification, who also forgave him.
St Augustine Zhao Rong and companions
Saint Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese diocesan priest who was martyred with his 119 companions in 1815. Among their number was an eighteen year old boy, Chi Zhuzi, who cried out to those who had just cut off his right arm and were preparing to flay him alive: "Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian."
Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China's relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly. The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (eighty-seven) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or labourers, ranging from nine years of age to seventy-two. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests. The thirty-three foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese soldier who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815. Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1st, 2000.
Founder of western monasticism, born at Nursia around 480, Benedict died at Monte Cassino in 543. The only authentic life of Benedict of Nursia is that contained in the second book of St. Gregory's "Dialogues". It is rather a character sketch than a biography and consists, for the most part, of a number of miraculous incidents, which, although they illustrate the life of the saint, give little help towards a chronological account of his career. St. Gregory's authorities for all that he relates were the saint's own disciples, namely Constantinus, who succeeded him as Abbot of Monte Cassino; and Honoratus, who was Abbot of Subiaco when St. Gregory wrote his "Dialogues".
Benedict was the son of a Roman noble of Nursia, a small town near Spoleto, and a tradition, which St. Bede accepts, makes him a twin with his sister Scholastica. His boyhood was spent in Rome, where he lived with his parents and attended the schools until he had reached his higher studies. Then "giving over his books, and forsaking his father's house and wealth, with a mind only to serve God, he sought for some place where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose; and therefore he departed [from Rome], instructed with learned ignorance and furnished with unlearned wisdom" (Dial. St. Greg., II, Introd. in Migne, P.L. LXVI). There is much difference of opinion as to Benedict's age at the time. It has been very generally stated as fourteen, but a careful examination of St. Gregory's narrative makes it impossible to suppose him younger than nineteen or twenty. He was old enough to be in the midst of his literary studies, to understand the real meaning and worth of the dissolute and licentious lives of his companions, and to have been deeply affected himself by the love of a woman (Ibid. II, 2). He was capable of weighing all these things in comparison with the life taught in the Gospels, and chose the latter. He was at the beginning of life, and he had at his disposal the means to a career as a Roman noble; clearly he was not a child. As St. Gregory expresses it, "he was in the world and was free to enjoy the advantages which the world offers, but drew back his foot which he had, as it were, already set forth in the world". If we accept the date 480 for his birth, we may fix the date of his abandoning the schools and quitting home at about A.D. 500.
Benedict does not seem to have left Rome for the purpose of becoming a hermit, but only to find some place away from the life of the great city; moreover, he took his old nurse with him as a servant and they settled down to live in Enfide, near a church dedicated to St. Peter, in some kind of association with "a company of virtuous men" who were in sympathy with his feelings and his views of life. Enfide, which the tradition of Subiaco identifies with the modern Affile, is in the Simbrucini mountains, about forty miles from Rome and two from Subiaco. It stands on the crest of a ridge which rises rapidly from the valley to the higher range of mountains, and seen from the lower ground the village has the appearance of a fortress. As St. Gregory's account indicates, and as is confirmed by the remains of the old town and by the inscriptions found in the neighbourhood, Enfide was a place of greater importance than is the present town. At Enfide Benedict worked his first miracle by restoring to perfect condition an earthenware wheat-sifter which his old servant had accidentally broken. The notoriety which this miracle brought upon Benedict drove him to escape still farther from social life, and "he fled secretly from his nurse and sought the more retired district of Subiaco". His purpose of life had also been modified. He had fled Rome to escape the evils of a great city; he now determined to be poor and to live by his own work. "For God's sake he deliberately chose the hardships of life and the weariness of labour".
A short distance from Enfide is the entrance to a narrow, gloomy valley, penetrating the mountains and leading directly to Subiaco. Crossing the Anio and turning to the right, the path rises along the left face of the ravine and soon reaches the site of Nero's villa and of the huge mole which formed the lower end of the middle lake; across the valley were ruins of the Roman baths, of which a few great arches and detached masses of wall still stand. Rising from the mole upon twenty-five low arches, the foundations of which can even yet be traced, was the bridge from the villa to the baths, under which the waters of the middle lake poured in a wide fall into the lake below. The ruins of these vast buildings and the wide sheet of falling water closed up the entrance of the valley to St. Benedict as he came from Enfide; today the narrow valley lies open before us, closed only by the far off mountains. The path continues to ascend, and the side of the ravine, on which it runs, becomes steeper, until we reach a cave above which the mountain now rises almost perpendicularly; while on the right hand it strikes in a rapid descent down to where, in St. Benedict's day, five hundred feet below, lay the blue waters of the lake. The cave has a large triangular-shaped opening and is about ten feet deep. On his way from Enfide, Benedict met a monk, Romanus, whose monastery was on the mountain above the cliff overhanging the cave. Romanus had discussed with Benedict the purpose which had brought him to Subiaco, and had given him the monk's habit. By his advice Benedict became a hermit and for three years, unknown to men, lived in this cave above the lake. St. Gregory tells us little of these years. He now speaks of Benedict no longer as a youth, but as a man of God. Romanus, he twice tells us, served the saint in every way he could. The monk apparently visited him frequently, and on fixed days brought him food.
During these three years of solitude, broken only by occasional communications with the outer world and by the visits of Romanus, he matured both in mind and character, in knowledge of himself and of his fellow-man, and at the same time he became not merely known to, but secured the respect of, those about him; so much so that on the death of the abbot of a monastery in the neighbourhood (identified by some with Vicovaro), the community came to him and begged him to become its abbot. Benedict was acquainted with the life and discipline of the monastery, and knew that "their manners were diverse from his and therefore that they would never agree together: yet, at length, overcome with their entreaty, he gave his consent". The experiment failed; the monks tried to poison him, and he returned to his cave. From this time his miracles seem to have become frequent, and many people, attracted by his sanctity and character, came to Subiaco to be under his guidance. For them he built in the valley twelve monasteries, in each of which he placed a superior with twelve monks. In a thirteenth he lived with "a few, such as he thought would more profit and be better instructed by his own presence". He remained, however, the father or abbot of all. With the establishment of these monasteries began the schools for children.
The remainder of St. Benedict's life was spent in realizing the ideal of monasticism which he has left us drawn out in his Rule.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference website gives a useful link with easy access to churches with live streaming of Mass. You can search to find churches nearest you or look further afield in different dioceses: Directory of Masses
Parishioners have “attended Mass” as follows:
- St Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham
- St Joseph’s, Leicester
- CAFOD Mass on a Wednesday evening.
- St Peter’s, Brighton
- St Alban’s & St Hugh’s, Derby
- Sacred Heart, Rochdale
- St Anthony’s, Wythenshawe
- St Peter in Chains, Doncaster
- Shrewsbury Cathedral
- Santuario di Oropa, Italy
- Ta’ Pinu, Gozo
- St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast
- St. Gabriel’s, Viewpark, Uddington
- Westminster Cathedral
- Holy Name, Jesmond, Newcastle
- St Peter’s, Brighton/Hove
- St Paul’s, Falls Road, Belfast
- The Grotto, Lourdes
You will remember that, at the end of the Bidding Prayers each Sunday, the reader asks, “Does anyone have any other intentions?” Most weeks this question is followed by silence, but occasionally one of the congregation will make a contribution. I think that some people must feel a little daunted at the prospect of speaking up in front of everyone else, but now we can change all that. If you have a prayer intention, no matter how “trivial” it might seem, please do not hesitate to let me know and I shall include it in next week’s newsletter. This can be personalised or anonymous, as you wish.
This week’s prayer intentions include:
- Everyone whose physical and mental health has been affected by Covid-19.
- We pray especially for the people of Leicester.
- Ginger Newby who was admitted to hospital with a broken leg after a fall.
- The brother of David Cafferky who is in a critical condition after a horrific accident. Can we please all pray for him and his speedy recovery and also to give David and the family the strength they need at this difficult time. (Update below)
- Two PSP contacts of Kathryn are in great need of our prayers. (PSP is the disease from which George suffered). One of them had a fall which required a hip replacement and then contracted Covid-19.
- Can we please pray for my neighbour, Tony Ells, who is in hospital following a second heart attack. Also my friend Eddie Higgins in Glasgow who has terminal cancer and also is in hospital after suffering a heart attack. (Rosemary McKee)
- And can we include John Brennan’s son in law who has had a quadruple bypass. John was deputy head at De Lisle in the seventies; his son in law is the same age as my children. (Kathryn Timmons)
- Could we include a prayer of thanks for the very happy and safe arrival of my son Tom and Carolyn’s daughter Philippa Ivy last Thursday, 25th June (Just in time to celebrate Liverpool becoming Premier League Champions!) (Joan Wiggins)
- Barbara Heath reports that her sister-in-law, Janet Wale,had an operation for cancer and then came home. However she showed signs of confusion andhas gone back into hospital. There is no sign of infection but doctors think it could be a reaction to the anaesthetic.
If we all were to read (or sing) the parish “favourite of the week” what a great way it would be of reminding us of the community to which we belong. Some parishioners will remember the Rosary Crusade of Fr Patrick Peyton in the 1950s. He popularised the saying: “A family that prays together stays together”. We could easily adapt this to read: “A parish that prays together stays together”. Let’s give it a try.
This week’s hymn, “Let there be peace on earth”, has been suggested by Brian Ratcliffe. It seems particularly appropriate at this time:
Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father,
brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother,
in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me,
let this be the moment now.
With every step I take,
let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment and live each moment
in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me.
What is your favourite hymn?Let us know and we shall publish it in the next newsletter.
Sick List: Please continue to pray for the following members of our parish: Bernard Moyers, Patrick Hodgson, Tod Smith, Angela Doyle, Ida De Melo, Maurice Nixon, Eva Shirreffs, Stefania Stasior, Irene Pallot, Muriel Barfield, Brian Ratcliffe, Ginger Newby.
Ian Cafferky update: David reports on the progress of his brother: “The operation from last Thursday was a success. He will not be able bear weight for 12 weeks while his pelvis, legs, ankles and feet heal. Then it is a long road of rehabilitation and learning how to walk again. He continues to have lung and other internal organ issues but the doctors are optimistic in his progress so far. My family would like to thank everyone for their ongoing prayers.”
Parishioners will be pleased to know that Muriel Barfield has returned home from hospital and is doing well.
Let us remember in our prayers those parishioners whose anniversaries occur in the coming week:
- 6th July 1995 Thomas Partington
- 7th July 1997 Peggie Musson
- 9th July 1979 Andrew Freer
May their souls and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Congratulations to Stephen and Roberta Giacchino who celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary on 30th June.
New Testament – some tricky ones here!
Answers below. No cheating!
1. From which language do we get the word “Gospel”?
2. Which of the following is not a synoptic gospel?
3. Which is the only Gospel attributed to a Gentile (i.e. non-Jewish) writer?
4. Which Gospel most emphasises Christ as King and fulfilment of the Jewish prophecies?
5. In which Gospel do we find the eight Beatitudes?
d. All of them
6. Which two gospels give us the most information about Christ’s birth and very early childhood?
a. Luke and John
b. Mark and John
c. Matthew and Luke
d. Matthew and John
7. The Gospels are listed in the order in which they were originally thought to have been written.
8. Which book was originally a part of a two-volume work by Luke but was later separated from the Gospel and placed after John?
9. When deciding which four Gospels to choose as canonical (included in the list of sacred books accepted as genuine), the early church fathers used which of the following criteria?
a. Liturgical use
b. Universal acceptance
c. Apostolic origin
d. All of the above
10. Christ’s last recorded words are the same I all four Gospels.
1. b It comes from the Anglo-Saxon "godspell", which means "good news". The Greek word for good news is "evangelion", from which we get evangelism.
2. c Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic Gospels because they all have the same basic perspective. John, however, has the most unique material of the four Gospels, and it is a more spiritualized account of Christ's life.
3. c Luke, a physician, is also credited with writing Acts. These are the only two books of the entire Bible not written by Jewish authors.
4. a Matthew is very concerned with presenting Christ as the prophesised Messiah and King of the Jews, and in his Gospel we find countless allusions to Old Testament prophecy. Arguably, John focuses on Christ as the Son of God, Luke on Christ as the Son of Man, Mark on Christ as Servant, and Matthew on Christ as King of the Jews.
5. a See Matthew 5:2-10. In Luke 6:20-23 there are only four Beatitudes. Some traditions separate the Eighth Beatitude (which concerns the persecuted) into two.
6. c Luke gives us the manger scene, and Matthew tells us of the wise men following the star to visit the young child sometime later. The other two Gospels do not give details of the birth or early childhood. Indeed, Mark does not begin until Christ is a man.
7. a Yes, as Matthew was originally thought to be the oldest Gospel. Today, however, many scholars consider Mark to be the oldest Gospel, and some see it as a partial source for Matthew.
8. c Acts, or "The Acts of the Apostles", tells the story of the early church, and is traditionally attributed to Luke.
9. d There was also a fourth criteria - the canonized Gospels had to have a theological outlook that was consistent with the other New Testament writings. "Apostolic Origins" means the Gospel had to be based on the preaching or teaching of an original apostle (not necessarily written by an apostle). "Liturgical Use" meant that it had to already be the practice of Christian communities that the gospels were read aloud publicly when they gathered.
10. b None of the Gospels tell us everything Christ may have said in his final hours, but they each give us a selection of his final words. The last recorded words of Christ prior to his death are: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke); "It is finished." (John); and "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew and Mark)