Thought for the Day
Previous Days Thoughts
(Most Recent First)
Thought for the day Thursday 4th June
On Wednesday I was in Buxton to meet up with my brother Paul and my niece, Alice in the lovely park there called the Pavillion Gardens. We walked round the park and came to Broad Walk, a pedestrian area that runs adjacent to the length of the park for over a quarter of a mile and I noticed as you can see from the below photos, there was a long line of approximately 4000 beautifully painted stones, supplied by a local builder’s merchants and decorated by the people of Buxton of all ages. As it’s a very long thin line it’s called the “Covid snake.” It’s a gesture of solidarity and togetherness in the midst of the Pandemic. There is a sign at the beginning of Broad Walk which says “please feed the snake ~ give to it but do not take!” The sheer length of the “snake” tells us how people responded to that simple invitation to give. I was touched by spirit of generosity and community that this impressive venture for fun in the face of fear depicts.
Today is the Feast of Jesus Christ Eternal High Priest. At the heart of Christ’s Priesthood is sacrifice and generosity and a desire to give of himself. In the Gospel we hear of Christ in the Garden of Gethsamane preparing for his forthcoming Passion and Death. In a spirit of generosity he prays for the Father’s will to be done, not his own. He will give of his all for the sake of everyone. He gave everything and took nothing for himself.
There have been lots of acts of kindness and discreet giving going, without the expectation of getting anything in return, on throughout the last few months. May Our Lord Jesus Eternal High Priest continue to bless all the acts of generosity and giving throughout this crisis, known and unknown, large and small in Buxton, Burnley and everywhere else in the UK.
Thought for the Day Wednesday 3rd June 2020
Today we keep the feast of Charles Lwanga and companions, the Ugandan martyrs. King Mwanga of Uganda had many Catholic and Protestant Christians killed. Some of them were even servants in the king’s palace or personal attendants to the king. Charles and 21 of his companions were executed between 1885 and 1887 for being having Christian principles and rebuking the king for his immoral practises in which they refused to take part. For this they were tortured and burned alive in a group. Seeds of faith flourish in times of persecution, and so the Catholic faith grew quickly and massively in Uganda following their martyrdom. in the St Charles is the patron of Catholic Action and of African Youth. Today is a public holiday in Uganda.
Following yesterday’s trap for Jesus set by the Pharisees and Herodians, in today’s Gospel, the Sadducees also try to catch Jesus out with a highly hypothetical question about the resurrection, which they do not believe in. Jesus answers quoting the Jewish Scriptures where God told Moses he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus goes on to conclude that: “He is God not of the dead, but of the living”. St Charles and his companions were totally convinced about the Resurrection of Christ. They knew that eternal life would be theirs if they stood up for Christian virtues and the teachings of the Church, even if this put their lives at risk.
Thought for the day Tuesday 2nd June 2020
Today is the feast of St Marcellinus and Peter, who were martyred in the year 304. Marcellinus was a priest and Peter was not. They were beheaded during the Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of the Church and were buried on the Via Lubicana outside Rome. As a boy, Pope Damasus I had heard the story of these martyrs from their executioner.
He went on to dedicate his life to establishing and strengthening the Church after the great persecution. He took much care over the restoration of the Roman catacombs and the proper burial of the martyrs there, including Marcellinus and Peter. After the persecutions, a basilica was built over the site of their tomb.
In the Gospel today, Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees and Herodians about whether it is permissible to pay taxes to Caesar, the Roman Emperor, the leader of the Romans occupying Israel. Jesus knows they are setting a trap for him but very cleverly catches out his questioners with the intelligence of his response. Jesus is advocating that worldly authorities deserve our acknowledgement. However in saying “Give to God what belongs to God”: He is saying that every aspect of our lives belong to God ; so we always need to give God our total obedience, respect and love.
The Martyrs whose feast we celebrate today, by their death witness to a life of giving to God what belongs to God by the example of lives spend in putting God first.
Thought for the day ~ Monday 1st June
Today is the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. It is a relatively new feast instituted by Pope Francis and is celebrated the day after Pentecost.
Pentecost marks the beginning of the Church, which is the community of believers who are filled the Holy Spirit. In the first reading we hear from the book of Genesis that Eve is the mother of all people. Eve and Adam both sinned, so as a result, as humans, just by being born we all inherit Original Sin. However when we are baptised, Original Sin gets taken away and we are able to receive God’s Holy Spirit. This enables us to belong to the family of believers which is the Church.
In today’s Gospel, we are with Mary at the foot of the Cross. Before he breathes his last, Our Lord utters beautiful words to Mary and to John, the Beloved Disciple. To Mary his mother, says; “Mother, behold your son and to John he says; ”Son, behold your Mother”. By these words, the Lord is entrusting the care of all his followers including us to the care of His Blessed Mother. Mary is the new Eve, but unlike the first Eve, Our Lady is without Sin. Therefore Mary is the perfect disciple and the Mother of all the redeemed. It is right that just after Pentecost we honour Our Lady as the Mother of the Church.
May Our Lady, Mother of the Church continue to help us through these days when our churches are closed, to stay close to her Son, to stay away from temptation to sin and to show love, care and compassion to all those we encounter.
Thought for the day Saturday 30th May 2020
One of the important things that we need to do as friends of Jesus is to be people who pray. Prayer is about both speaking and listening to God. Like any friendship that we value we need to invest time into it, in order for it to flourish. Prayer is the way we build up a personal relationship with Jesus.
St Paul tells us that the Spirit is given to help us in many ways. The Spirit will help us overcome the things that we struggle with. Paul also tells us that the Spirit will be the one who gives us that desire for God. It is the Spirit who will urge us to want to pray and to overcome the things that prevent us from wanting to pray. The Spirit will even be the one who gives us the right words that we need to use in our time of prayer. The Spirit helps us to question our priorities and makes changes where needed and to get our priorities right.
The Spirit always leads us to Jesus. On this eve of Pentecost, may we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us closer to Christ and be grateful to him for being part of the universal Church.
Thought for the day Friday 29th May 2020
There is a hymn that speaks of God turning the world upside down. This speaks of the change that the Holy Spirit brings to the world. The Spirit who comes at Pentecost brings change. He will come upon the Apostles as tongues of fire. Fire brings change; after a fire everything has to change, everything has to be renewed. The disciples were never the same again after they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They went on to establish the Church and help to start the journey to bring its message of salvation to every part of the world.
The Spirit brings change and turns everything upside down. Jesus speaks of this when he says the last shall be first and the first shall be last.
The prophet Joel spoke of God’s spirit being given to all people ~ to men and women, slaves and free. The message of the Gospel is for all who are willing to accept it. It is not just for specially chosen people, it is for all who have a receptive heart, open to accept that Jesus is Lord. We see further evidence of the Holy Spirit turning the world upside down in the prophets words; “ the old men shall dream dreams and young men shall see visions”. It is usually the other way round; the elderly can see visions and it is only the young who can aspire. However the Holy Spirit can enable young people to be wise and close to God and can equally enable the elderly to be filled with hope.
As we prepare for Pentecost may we allow the Spirit to change us and renew us in faith and love.
Thought for the day ~ Thursday 28th May 2020
It was the sin of pride that got people to desire to build a tower to Heaven ~ they wanted to get to God and to Heaven by their own means. In the Genesis account of the Tower of Babel, we hear that God was not impressed with this. God would himself provide the way to Heaven. Because of this pride, people were scattered throughout the earth and spoke different languages so they could not understand earth other and could not therefore work together to complete the tower.
When the Holy Spirit first came at Pentecost upon the Apostles, they were changed and no longer afraid to go out and to proclaim the good news about Jesus. We are told that on that day, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke everyone’s language so that people visiting Jerusalem that day from every race and language. They heard them and understood them cos they spoke in their Language. Everyone was amazed and filled with joy.
Pentecost is the beginning of the Church, which is people with the Holy Spirit, which we receive at Baptism. It is also called the birthday of the Church. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, the Apostles went on to spread the good news and therefore build the Church throughout the world. So the Church is now found in virtually every country in the world and people who speak every language are united.
It is through the Church, build by God himself that people can journey towards salvation and be on the path to God, and Heaven.
Thought for the day ~ Wednesday 27th May 2020
Today’s Gospel tells of the sending out of the first missionaries. Jesus sends out the 72 ahead of him to all the towns and villages he himself was to visit. They were being sent out; “like lambs among wolves”. He equipped them only with his trust and his confidence in them. He tells, to be prepared for some people to reject them, but to be essentially His ambassadors of peace.
Today is the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury, who died around 605. Pope Gregory the Great decided to send thirty monks from Rome to evangelise these shores. These missionaries chose Augustine, prior of the monastery of St Andrew in Rome to be their leader. They landed here in 597 and were welcomed by King Ethelbert who along with many of his subjects became Christian. Augustine was consecrated Archbishop in France and returned to Canterbury to set up his see. He achieved great success as a missionary here because of his faithfulness to Christ’s message of peace. He trusted that his mission to England was desired by God and was guided by the Holy Spirit.
We should be grateful to St Augustine for bringing the faith to our land. May he inspire us to be courageous in speaking of our Christian faith, by being first and foremost respectful of where people are at and be as authentic as we can be about our faithfulness to Christ and His Church.
Thought for the day Tuesday 26th May 2020
Today is the feast of St Philip Neri who was the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians). He was born in Florence in 1515 and went to Rome at the age of 18 and earned his living as a tutor. He undertook much-needed charitable work among the young men of Rome. He started a brotherhood to help the poor, the sick and pilgrims. He was ordained priest in 1551. He had a particular care for the students at the English College, preparing for missionary life and probable martyrdom in England. The principles of the Oratory he founded are that tradition is a good thing, but innovation also has its place. St Philip was renowned for his light-heartedness and sense of fun and could not be serious for long. He was famous for his pranks which he always did for the purpose of combating pride, melancholy or hero worship.
May St Philip Neri help us when we are taking ourselves too seriously to lighten up. In these serious times, may he inspire us to bring fun into our families and into our communities. Remember today to pray for the Oratorian communities throughout the world and particularly for those in this country and our Diocese.
Thought for the Day - Monday 25th May 2020
Today is the feast day of a fellow North-Easterner, St Bede the Venerable. He was born in 673 in what is now Sunderland. He joined the monastery at Wearmouth and spent his whole life between there and Jarrow, where he taught and wrote. He was the most outstanding Church author of his time. As well as commentaries on Scripture, he also wrote a history of the English Church. He was also the first known writer of English prose, though this has not survived. He is venerated as the “light of the Church” in the Dark Ages. He is also seen as the forerunner to the renaissance of the Western Church.
In the first reading today we hear of the Holy Spirit continuing to be at work in the Early Church. St Paul is in Ephesus and his preaching leads to twelve men being baptised and receiving the Holy Spirit. We hear of the change in them and of the new gifts that they were able to use as a result of receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always at work in the Church gently guiding us and helping us.
In these days of waiting for Pentecost to come this year, let us allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to want to pray and fill us with his love. May the Holy Spirit also enable us to be confident like St Paul and St Bede in speaking about our faith in the Risen Lord.
Thought for the Day Saturday 23rd May 2020
A friend of mine is moving to a new town after living in a different place for a long time. He knows he will be welcomed by the locals where he is going, but he has doubts over whether he is doing the right thing. I encouraged him to go with his instinct about it being the right thing to do and despite the uncertainties associated with such a big step into the unknown, to trust that the Lord will be with him to guide him and strengthen him.
We hear in the first reading today, that the early Christians and therefore the early Church was known as “the Way”. This we are told refers to those who try to follow “the Way of the Lord”. There is something nice and simple about this name for the believers. Jesus calls himself “The Way, the Truth and the Life” so that those who enter into relationship with him will be on the right path to eternal life.
It is good to compare life to a journey and this is largely a journey into the unknown. Despite the uncertainties in which this journey of life is travelled, we know that the key thing to do is to have faith. If we have faith in Christ then we are enabled to have trust in his words and in his presence, even when we make big life-changing decisions.
Thought for the Day - Friday 22nd May
In today’s Gospel Jesus is speaking to the disciples at the Last Supper about the sorrow and pain they are going to face at his imminent Death. He assures them that this will not last and will be replaced by joy ~ the joy of the Resurrection. When we lose someone that we love, we know that our world seems to have come to an end, and we cannot imagine what life in the future will be like without them.
In the days and weeks after the death of a loved-one, we usually get lots of support from those who know us, but this does not always continue. We are blessed in our parish to have groups like the Bereavement Group and the Bethany Group that work with those who are grieving and this is ongoing support that is much needed and much appreciated by those who are receive it.
Those who have had to organise a funeral during the current crisis have been hit particularly hard because the restrictions that needed to be imposed, mean they can’t receive the usual support, nor largely be able to have the type of funeral that they would have liked.
May all those who have recently lost a loved one allow their Easter faith to help them to receive comfort and hope from the Risen Lord in their present sorrow and pain.
Thought for the Day ~ Ascension Day ~ Thursday 21st May
Today is Ascension Day which marks forty days since Easter Sunday. This event in the life of Jesus, took place forty days after Easter. The Risen Jesus spent time with his disciples and told them to stay in Jerusalem, and promised that the Holy Spirit would come upon them. Then he ascended into heaven in their presence and disappeared from their sight into a cloud. He had to go home, he had to go back to be re-united with the Father so he can send the Spirit.
The disciples were still looking up into the sky and some angels appeared to them to tell them to be looking ahead not looking up into the sky. They were telling them they had work to do and they needed to get on with the task Jesus had entrusted them with. This was to go out to the world and make known the name of Jesus to all. This of course they would only be able to do with the Holy Spirit, who will come to them ten days later, at Pentecost.
This feast is also important for us because it reminds us of our mission too . Where Jesus has gone we hope to follow. In the meantime we are called to bear witness to our faith just as the disciples did. The person who despite their limitations and defects lives a simple life, taking Christ as the model, is a sign of someone who has God in their lives. The witness of a life that shows concern for people and practical help and love for the poor, the weak and those who suffer is also one that has widespread appeal. Such witness can lead people to ask questions of themselves and lead them to God.
Happy Ascension Day
Thought for the Day Wednesday 20th May 2020
In January this year, I had a lovely holiday in Athens with my friend, Fr Martin from Newcastle. It was our first time to mainland Greece and although a bit chilly for the first few days was a very pleasant break. We visited the well-known sites like the Acropolis and other historic places. However, as priests, we were very keen to see the Areopagus, where St Paul made his famous speech to the assembled Council, as detailed in today’s first reading. Curiously there is only a very small plaque marking the spot where this event took place. Despite using a very clever approach involving the statue “To an Unknown God”, Paul only had relatively small success in convincing the Athenians about Christ being the same one they already venerated. Their major stumbling block was the Resurrection, at the mention of which many of them laughed, because they could not believe it was true.
As the reaction of the people of First Century Athens proved, it does take a big step in faith to accept the Resurrection. However the Church gives us seven weeks of the season of Easter in order to remind us it is the most important tenet of our faith. We know that Easter makes sense of everything that we believe in about Christ. The Resurrection helps us to know why we can have the Sacraments, which lead us to a life of grace. It leads to an invitation to enter into a personal relationship with the Living Lord Jesus. It also makes sense of life and of death. In this Easter Season,and in these challenging times we find ourselves in, it is important that we remain strong in our faith in the Resurrection.
Thought for the Day Tuesday 19th May
May 19th has always been a significant day for my family because that is the day my mam was born in 1933. Today is also the feast of St Dunstan, who was a great English Saint. I was Parish priest at St Dunstan’s Church in Moston in North Manchester for nearly ten years, prior to moving to Urmston in 2014. St Dunstan’s people are great people and I was very blessed to serve them as Parish Priest.
One of the highlights of my time in Moston was in 2012, to mark the centenary of the parish, was to go with parishioners on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St Dunstan. It turned out to be a great experience because it took us to wonderful places associated with the saint. It took us to Baltonsborough, Somerset near Glastonbury. Here he was born circa 909 and where he started his life as a monk in the monastery there. He later became abbot of Glastonbury, whereby he had to recreate monastic life, established a school for the locals, and literally rebuilt the ruined abbey. He was renowned as a musician, illuminator and metalworker. Dunstan personally inherited a fortune which he used to foster and encourage monastic revival in England. He was a stateman and an advisor to kings. Dunstan’s coronation ceremony which emphasises the bond between church and monarch, still forms the basis of royal coronations to this day. Not all the kings he served, appreciated his honesty!. One such king had him exiled for two years to a monastery in Ghent (now Belgium), for speaking his mind about the king’s morals. He used his time there however to good use and brought back with him many ideas for the reform of monasticism in this country. As well as being Bishop of London, Dunstan was also made Bishop of Worcester, which with its splendid Cathedral is another fine place we visited on our Jubilee pilgrimage.
Dunstan ended up as Archbishop of Canterbury , where he is buried in the Cathedral there after his death there in 988. This important position enabled him to bring about great reforms in the English Church. On our parish pilgrimage, the very kind staff at the Cathedral there kindly allowed us access to Dunstan’s tomb. May the Lord bless all who have St Dunstan as their Patron. May this very gifted English Saint and Stateman renowned for his wisdom, faithful to the Lord, charity and humility inspire us to trust in Our Lord through good times as well as the challenging times that we
Thought for the day Monday 18th May 2020
Preaching is obviously important ~ hopefully what is being said is helpful to the hearers. Sometimes people tell me that what I said must have been directed at them. I might reply to that by saying that we first and foremost preach to ourselves ~ we are sinners ourselves and so we need to be challenged ourselves. The Holy Spirit is at work in what we say and also in helping to find a receptive heart in which the words can dwell.
In today’s excerpt from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s words really strike a chord with Lydia, a lady who comes to listen to him. We are told that she is a devout lady and in the purple-dye trade, so a woman of means. We are told that the Lord opened her heart to what Paul was saying and she asked to be baptised along with her household. She insists that in response to the Good News about Jesus Christ that Paul has shared with her that Paul and his companions stay with her at her home in Thyatira. She will prove to be a faithful disciple of Christ.
We are also called to proclaim our faith to others. We might not necessarily use words to do this; the example of our lives should be authentic enough to do this. In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls the Advocate whom he sends upon his Church; “the Spirit of Truth”. We who have received the same Spirit ourselves at Baptism and Confirmation. should not be surprised when what we say and do in the name of the Lord, should sometimes resonate with another person who desires to share our faith.
Thought for the Day ~ Saturday 16th May 2020
The whole of the month of May is dedicated to Our Blessed Lady. We do this to remind us of Mary’s importance in the life of the Church and in our own lives as well.
This tradition dates back to the ancient Greeks who dedicated the month of May to Artemis, the goddess of fecundity. Romans also claimed May as the month to honour Flora, the goddess of bloom. During the 11th Century Christians in Italy first adopted the month of May for devotions to honour Our Lady.
We do this because Our Lady is the Mother of Christ so she is the Mother of God. She is also the Mother of the Church and she is the first and most perfect disciple of her Son. Our Lady is an advocate for us and whenever we pray to her, she always directs us to her Son.
We have some lovely feasts connected with Our Lady in May; on 1st May we remember her beloved husband St Joseph, a man of faith who with Mary brought up Jesus as his own. On 13th May, we have the feast of Our Lady of Fatima , remembering when Our Lady appeared six times to three children in a little village in Portugal. Finally, on 31st May, we have the Feast of the Visitation, when we celebrate Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth to share the news that she was to be the Mother of the Lord.
May Our Lady, herself no stranger to uncertainty help us through these uncertain times to keep strong in our faith in her Son. May Our Lady, Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May, pray for us.
Thought for the day Friday 15th May
Yesterday I was speaking about friendship and saying that I believe that our friends are a gift from God. I have a bit of rule of thumb about friends, that I use half-jokingly but half-seriously as well: it is called “my five year rule”! It means that I don’t consider someone is a true friend unless I have known them for at least five years. That might seem a bit harsh but I think there is logic in it too. The best things in life take time to come to fruition. I think there is no substitute for the ups and downs of real life to test a friendship. We want our friends to be there for us through the challenging times as well as the good times. Friends get to know us and we usually trust our friends to enter into some of the hidden parts of our lives.
In today’s Gospel, once again set at the Last Supper, Jesus calls his disciples “friends” because he has shared himself with them. He says we can show no greater love than to lay down our lives for our friends. The very next day He will lay down his life for these disciples by dying for them on the Cross.
The Lord wants each of us to be his friend and he is the best friend we can ever have. He was prepared to die for us too. Because of His Resurrection, that we are celebrating in this Season of Easter we will never desert us and will always stand by us. He wants the best for us and like all loyal friends will stand by us even when we mess up. However Jesus is also a demanding friend, he wants us to love him and keep his commandments so that we can enjoy eternal friendship with him in Heaven.
Thought for the Day Thursday 14th May
Today is the feast of St Matthias. He is one of the least well known ofthe twelve Apostles, as there is not very much known for certai about him. He was chosen by the Apostles as we heard in the first reading, to replace Judas. His calling is unique in that he was not appointed by Jesus directly, but was appointed by the other disciples by the drawing of lots. This was a recognised Jewish custom whereby they believed choices were placed into God’s hands. The essential role of Matthias and all the Apostles was to be witnesses to the Resurrection of Christ. According to Hippolytus of Rome, Matthias died naturally of old age in Jerusalem, after a life of witnessing to the Resurrection.
I believe Matthias was not chosen by chance to be an Apostle, the hand of God was definitely in that decision. In the Gospel, Jesus, speaking at the Last Supper calls his disciples, “friends”. I think that our friends are also chosen by God. We might think we have chosen our friends ourselves, but because friendship is two-way matter, I believe that the hand of God is in these choices too. I think that our friends are sent to us by God to complete something in us. Like ourselves our friends are not perfect, but they have something to bring to us and they are gift to us from God.
On this Feast day, let us thank the Lord for choosing St Matthias as an Apostle and as a friend. I suggest we to think today about some of the particular friends God has given us and maybe also take the time to prayerfully reflect on the particular gifts each of our friends bring to us.
Thought for the day Wednesday 13th May 2020
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. This beautiful shrine in Portugal commemorates the appearances of Our Blessed Lady to three shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in a nearby village which began on this day during WW1 in 1917. The message of Fatima, was one of conversion, prayer and promise of peace.
Fatima is an important place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world. In my experience it is a very peaceful place for prayer and devotion It is part of the rich tapestry of experiences within the Church.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the analogy of the vine and branches to tell us that if we belong to him then his life will be in us and we can bear much fruit. The Holy Spirit is in the Church guides us and helps to prevent us from being cut off from Jesus the True Vine through selfishness and sin. The Spirit also feeds us and nourishes us so that Christ remains central to our lives.
In these times of uncertainty, may Our Lady of Fatima help us to remain close to her Beloved Son through refraining from sin and being faithful to prayer.
Thought for the day Tuesday 12th May 2020
It is tradition that a person makes out a will so that when they die their possessions and treasures can pass on to those whom they want to give them to. This is usually done in order to show appreciation and love for those you are leaving behind. Jesus at the Last Supper tells his closest friends, his disciples, that he is bequeathing to them a gift. This is the gift of his peace. He says it is a peace that the world cannot give. Like all bequests this can only be received after his death.
What better parting gift can any one give us than the gift of their peace. We all desire to find peace, to be at peace with ourselves and others, whatever that may mean for us. This for me implies that Jesus was happy with the disciples he had chosen but wanted to give them something that they needed and they would appreciate.
This will be a peace that is hard won, at great cost to the Lord, through his Passion and Death. The first words that the Risen Lord will say to his gathered disciples on Easter Sunday are; “Peace be with you”.
In these uncertain times that we are currently going through, may we treasure the gift of the Lord’s peace that he promises to us as reminders of his love and his appreciation for us.
Thought for the day Monday 11th May 2020
We are now in the second part of the season of Easter and we are preparing to celebrate Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles fifty days after Easter. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to his disciples at the Last Supper of the Holy Spirit (The Advocate) who will come upon them. Jesus tells them that the Spirit will teach them everything and will remind them of all that Jesus has said to them.
The Holy Spirit is in the Church and has continued to guide the Church on its pilgrimage through time. The Spirit teaches us in a variety of different ways. The Spirit certainly is the one who gives us the desire to pray and to want to worship God. The Spirit also helps us to belong to the family of the Church. It is also the Spirit who enables us want to keep the commandments and especially Christ’s new commandment to love one another as He has loved us.
In these difficult times when we cannot gather as a Catholic Community, the Spirit is clearly at work within us helping us to stay faithful to the Lord, to prayer and worship and to his Church.
Thought for the Day - Saturday 9th May 2020
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel exactly who he is. In answer to Philip’s question about seeing the Father, Jesus says that to have seen him is to have seen the Father. He says that the Father is in him and he is in the Father. So he is telling his disciples categorically that he is Divine. He is telling them that to have seen him is to have seen the Father.
Therefore, if we want to know what God is like, we just to need to look at what Jesus was like. So in seeing Jesus being compassionate and merciful with the sick and the sinner, we know that God is like that too. In seeing Jesus passionate to his parables, his teaching and his miracles, we see something of the passion that God has for us. We know that because everyone matters to Jesus, then everyone matters to God too. It tells us that God cares about all humanity and he wants all of us to be with him forever in Heaven.
On this day of Easter, may the Risen Lord Jesus guide us and help to grow in knowledge and understanding of God through our appreciation and love for Him.
Thought for the Day Friday 8th May 2020
Today’s Gospel, for me, speaks of the mercy of God. Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper, just hours before he dies. He says there are many rooms in the Father’s house, not just a few: there are many. This tells us of the mercy of God: that God desires not just a few people to with him in eternity but many. God wants to give everyone a chance to get into Heaven.
The whole point of the Incarnation, was so that Jesus brings God to us and thereby bring us to God. Jesus did not just speak of God’s mercy, he practised it. He did this through his teaching and his whole approach to people. He manifested this by having time for the poor, by telling them that they mattered to God. He had time for those on the margins; He did not push away the sick; the blind, the lame, the deaf and the paralysed; instead, he healed them and restored them to life. He also practiced mercy with outcasts like tax collectors and other sinners, he ate and drank with them; he encouraged them to come into his presence, because he did not condemn them and He gave them hope and a chance to change.
May we, who also hope to be in the Father’s house, model our lives on Christ by being compassionate, merciful and fair with all those we encounter. We hope to receive the mercy of God, so let us be merciful in all our dealings and encounters with our brothers and sisters.
Thought for the day Monday 4th May
Today is the feast of the English Martyrs. We think of all those men and women who died because they refused to give up the practise of their Catholic faith during penal times, when it was illegal to be a Catholic in this country.
I am proud to say that we have a Beatified Martyr in our family; he is called Blessed Richard Featherstone. He was a chaplain to Catherine of Aragon and so was put to death under the orders of Henry VIII.
We should be very grateful to all the martyrs for enabling our faith to survive those challenging times. There are resonances with those difficult times at the moment when, for quite different reasons, in order to contain the spread of the virus, no public worship is possible. May all the English Martyrs inspire us to remain patient and strong in these days when our faith is being tested and we are unable to celebrate the Mass and the other Sacraments, which give us life and hope.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel ~ Pray for us
English Martyrs ~ Pray for us
Blessed Richard Featherstone ~ Pray for us
Thought for the Day Saturday 2nd May
One of the great battles within the history of the Church and its searching for the truth, was the conflict with followers of a man called Arius. Arianism teaches that the Son was created by the Father and is no way equal to him. This was seen as more palatable for people to accept as it did not require God to undergo the undignified experience of becoming “flesh”. Today we celebrate the feast of St Athanasius who fought for much of his life against the Arians, who used all sorts of tactics in their attempt to silence him.
St Athanasius was born in Alexandria in the year AD295 and was subject to great personal suffering, including spending a total of 17 years of his life in exile. However St Athanasius persevered and his orthodox teaching was eventually adopted by the Church. He insisted on the identity of the natures of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, whereby we truly understand that Jesus is fully man and fully God. We also uphold our belief in the goodness of creation and the love of God. In the Gospel today, Jesus speaks of being “the Bread of Life”. After hearing this, many of his listeners abandoned Jesus as they mistakenly thought that in speaking of “Eating my flesh” he was advocating cannibalism. The Apostles however remained faithful to the Lord as he has the mess of eternal life. Speaking the truth is not always popular, may Our Lord and St Athanasius help us to remain steadfast and faithful in the moments when what the Church holds to true seems to be the minority view.
Thought for the day Wednesday 29th April 2020
Today is the Feast of St Catherine of Siena. St Catherine has a place in my heart: The parish under her patronage in Didsbury, Manchester is where I discerned my vocation. St Catherine’s was the place where I was able to first get engaged in parish ministry as a I discerned my vocation. As a young man in the 1980’s, I was a reader and a voluntary youth leader there. I was eventually ordained a priest there in 1993. My contact with St Catherine’s continues today as my friend Fr John Hitchen is the current Parish Priest there. He is also Vocations Director so we continue to work closely together in the Diocese for vocations to the priesthood.
St Catherine of Siena died in 1380 in Rome aged 33 years old. Her faith was so strong that she felt on fire with God’s love and emptied herself so much of selfishness that she was utterly filled with Christ’s love. This enabled her to do wonderful things with her life and particularly to reach out in love to other people. St Catherine went to see the Pope in exile in Avignon and urged him to return to Rome and to get the Church back on track. In her day, Siena was rife with warring gangs; she approached these wayward young men and allowed many of them to change the direction of their lives and turn away from sinfulness and turn back to God.
St Catherine shows us by the example of her life that we are to be beacons of God’s love for everyone through a life of love and service. Using her imagery, we can be a bridge for God’s love to be transmitted through us. I can think of no better saint to be an “adopted patron for vocations” in our Diocese than St Catherine.
Thought for the day Tuesday 28th April 2020
In today’s first reading we hear the account of the martyrdom of St Stephen. He is the first Martyr for Christ and understandably there are some parallels between his death and the death of Christ. Stephen is like the Lord when he dies, in that he offers a prayer of forgiveness for those responsible for his stoning: “Lord do not hold this sin against them”. Equally, just as Jesus had commended his spirit to his Father at his death, Stephen commits his dying spirit to Christ: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.
St Stephen is the patron of altar servers. Let us think of our parish servers in our three churches. Of course, like many other people they are currently unable to practise their ministry. Let us pray for our servers that St Stephen will inspire them by his example to remain committed and enthusiastic about their ministry.
We are all called to grow through the Holy Spirit in love for the Lord. This loving relationship should lead us to be Christ-like in lots of different ways especially being trusting of God in times of uncertainty anddanger. Just as Christ was forgiving of those who put him on the Cross, even in the midst of suffering we are also to be merciful to those who wrong us unjustly.
Thought for the Day Monday 27th April 2020
In the mid 1980’s, I was a member of a group called the “Search Group” for young Catholic adults organised by a nun called Sister Mary, at the Cenacle Convent in Manchester. Sr Mary knew that young people are searching for meaning in their life and their faith needed to be encouraged. We would just come together weekly to receive some input about some aspect of our Catholic faith, to discuss, to chat over a cuppa and to pray together. It was great because it was pitched at just the right level for all of us. Like myself, a number of people in the group went on to go to Seminary or to enter Religious life. We are all looking for meaning in our lives, and we are going to find the answers to a lot of our questions if our searching leads us to Christ.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus has just fed a multitude of people with only a few barley loaves and two fish, and the crowds are searching to find Jesus. However, Jesus is aware that they are seeking him out only to witness more of the spectacular. He is urging them rather to grow in faith and believe in who he is. He wants the signs he has given to draw them more deeply into a relationship with God.
These days of the lockdown are giving many of us more time to reflect and to think. May we use these unusual times to grow in faith through creating more time for prayer. When we let the Lord more fully into our lives in prayer, may we have the wisdom and patience to catch the answers he will give to our searching questions.
Thought for the day Saturday 25th April
Today is the feast of the St Mark the Evangelist. Mark was born in AD 5 in Cyrene, Libya. He travelled with St Barnabas and St Paul on many missionary journeys and went on to establish the Church in Alexandria, where he is believed to have died around this day 68AD. Interestingly he is the patron of Egypt, barristers and of course Venice.
It is commonly agreed that his was the earliest of the four Gospels accounts that we have. It is the shortest of the four Gospels, having only 16 chapters and it was written for the Church in Rome that at the time was facing great persecution and many of its members were facing the certainty of death. There is a sense of urgency about this Gospel, which makes sense when we bear in mind who it was written for. He starts his Gospel with the account of John the Baptist telling people to repent and prepare a way for the Lord. The symbol for Mark’s Gospel is the winged lion. A lion is renowned for its courage which is surely what Mark was trying to give to his first readers.
We give thanks for St Mark’s life and his faith and most importantly for his greatest legacy, his Gospel account of Our Lord. May we find some time today to allow the Lord to speak to us through these sacred pages and most importantly listen to the message we will find there. May it inspire us to have courage and to continue to trust Our Lord in these challenging times.
Thought for the Day Wednesday 22nd April 2020
In today’s Gospel we hear one of the most famous verses in the entire Scriptures : John Ch 3 verse 16 ; “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life”. These words spoken to Nicodemus are so powerful and would surely have touched the heart of Nicodemus in pursuit of answers to his questions about who Jesus really is. This generosity by God is going to manifest itself in Passion and Death of Our Lord. Eternal life for those who believe will result from the Lord’s Resurrection.
Let us dwell in our time, on the enormity of God’s love for us in showing such love for us. We can show our belief in God’s Son by listening to him and being faithful to his teachings. Whenever we make sacrifices for each other or we perform little acts of kindness and generosity however small, then we are standing up and proclaiming our faith in the Risen Lord.
Thought for the Day Tuesday 21st April
In today’s first reading we hear of how the early Church was a great community where there was unity and everything was held in common. Those with property or land would sell it and give the proceeds to the Apostles so they could help the needy with it. We hear of the generosity of Barnabas from Cyprus who gives the proceeds of the sale of his land to the Apostles. This is a sign of his faith and that he wants to belong to the Church himself. The name the Apostles gave him means “son of encouragement”. They would certainly have felt encouraged by Barnabas in their role of building up the Kingdom, and quickly discover how sincere and committed he was to prove to be as a Christian. He will go on to be a loyal companion with St Paul on his great missionary journeys, assisting many people to come into the Church.
During this Pandemic, there is a lot of good, natural kindness and encouragement quietly going on within our parish community. May St Barnabas and all the saints continue to foster in us this spirit of the early Church in helping each other to stay strong in faith and hope.
Thought for the day Monday 20th April
In today’s Gospel which is set early on in John’s Gospel, a leading Pharisee called Nicodemus comes to see Jesus at night with questions, because what Jesus has been saying and doing has impressed him. He is a bit afraid of what his fellow Pharisees might say, so he comes at night to prevent others seeing him with Jesus. At the death of the Lord, this man will help to ensure Jesus gets a proper Jewish burial. We contrast this secrecy with Peter and John, in the first reading ,who filled with the Holy Spirit are in broad daylight confidently proclaiming their faith in the Risen Lord.
May the Holy Spirit enable us to have the same confidence as the Apostles in speaking of our faith in the Risen Christ. However even if we have not got their confidence may we like Nicodemus to allow our kind deeds for others to speak of our love for the Lord Jesus.
Thought for the day Saturday 18th April
I remember meeting a young man at a soup kitchen in the North East when I was a seminarian, saying to me that he could accept everything the Church says is true but he could not accept that Jesus could have walked on water! I was amazed that this was a bigger stumbling block for him in coming to faith, than Christ’s Resurrection, which is surely the biggest miracle of all that and is not easy to accept as true.
In today’s Gospel we hear a summary from Mark of the Risen Lord’s appearances, the accounts of which are recorded more fully in Matthew, Luke and John. I feel Mark emphasises more than the other Evangelists the struggle the disciples had in coming to terms with initially believing in the Resurrection. Jesus seems to show a little bit of frustration with the disciples at their slowness in believing in the Resurrection, but nevertheless his confidence in them and love for them is shown as remaining strong.
The best way for us to show our faith in the Resurrection is to have a personal relationship with Christ. With the Sacraments being unavailable to us at the moment because of the virus, the best way to sustain and strengthen our friendship with Christ is in prayer and reading the Scriptures. While many of us have more time on our hands than usual, perhaps taking time to read the Scriptures would be very fruitful. If you want a suggestion of where to start, why not try Mark’s Gospel which could be read in it’s entirety in a couple of hours, but probably better read a chapter at a time over a period of days.
Thought for the day Friday 17th April
In today’s Gospel, Peter and some of the disciples return to what they knew best and they go fishing, but perhaps because they are “rusty” they are not successful. The Risen Jesus appears on the shore of the lake and invites them to put out their nets again but this time from the other side of the boat. They heed Jesus just as they had when he had first called them to follow him some three years before at the beginning of his ministry, and as on that occasion, they caught an abundance of fish.
By doing this, Jesus is redirecting them back to what they should be doing; to be following him and becoming “fishers of men”. The Lord is compassionate and friendly with these men who apart from John, had deserted him during his Passion and Death. This shows the Lord harboured no grudges, showed no sign of resentment or disappointment with them, but still stood by his decision to choose these men as the foundations of his Mission and his Church.
There are times when we are a bit lost and heading in the wrong direction and need guidance from the Lord. May the Risen Lord gently guide us through such challenging times, either directly through our encounters in prayer with him or more indirectly, by working through the words and actions of others.
Thought for the day Easter Wednesday 15th April 2020
Gospel today is known as the Road to Emmaus. Many artists have painted this powerful Easter account. Two disciples on Easter Sunday are going away from Jerusalem where all the drama has taken place. They are joined by the Risen Jesus and their hearts burn within them as he explains all the scriptures to them as they walk along the road. They don’t recognise He is with them. This is understandable as they have been traumatised by the events of Good Friday, with all its horrors, and now reports that he is risen have left them very confused. So effectively they are running away, perhaps to take time out in order to make sense of it all.
It’s the same with us, we are often blinded by getting too caught up in the busyness of life, or other things that blind us to the presence of the Risen Lord, to recognise He is with us on our Journey. It is good for us to stop and reflect on the richness and meaning of what Easter is about in the seven weeks of the season. Easter is at the very heart of our Christian faith and it is why we celebrate every Sunday as our Sabbath day. Easter changes everything for us because once and for all, God has conquered even death, which is the one thing that is certain about life and something that hovers over in this life, like a dark cloud.
Thought for the Day Tuesday 14th April 2020
Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, whose story we will hear tomorrow, in today’s Gospel account, Mary Magdalene also is unable to recognise the risen Jesus.
Maybe she is blinded by confusion, grief and tears but she mistakes him for the gardener. It is only when he calls her by her name that she recognises that it is indeed the Lord himself.
The Lord knows each of us by our name; our name was most likely given to us by our parents and for that we should be grateful. There are often lots of reasons why we have been given the name we have. My own naming caused disappointment on one side of the family because I was born on my grandfather’s birthday whose name was Michael; I am sorry that there was sadness caused by the name I was given but I am very happy to be called David. At our baptism the Lord, through the Church affirms that name we have been given. Our name makes us unique: imagine the Lord calling you today by your name! He desires to know us personally and for us to grow in friendship with him. This is all possible because of Easter.
Thought For the Day ~ Monday 13th April 2020
We hear in today’s Gospel that as the news of the Resurrection gets around, it receives a mixed reception. To the disciples and the followers of Jesus, it is joyful news and after the sadness and tears of Good Friday, its significance strikes home. For most of them it makes perfect sense, because they will recall that Jesus had told them a few times; “The Son of Man will suffer death but rise again on the Third Day”. On the other hand, for the Religious leaders, the news is very disturbing and we are told by Matthew that they bribe the soldiers to cover up the story by saying that the disciples took the body of Jesus away while those guarding the tomb were asleep. However, you can’t keep the truth a secret for long and the Risen Jesus will make a number of appearances before His Ascension to disprove the cover-up story.
For Christians, the Resurrection is news that should bring us great joy and fill us with hope. Because of The Resurrection we know that Jesus can have the last word over sin and death. May the Risen Lord bring the certainty of His calm and peace to these days of uncertainty and anxiety.
Thought for the Day Saturday 4th April
Thanks to technology, I recently I attended my first ever on-line group meeting, which was effective and essential in these extraordinary times as well as an education for me. Some people dislike meetings with their protocol of chairs, secretaries, agendas and minutes etc.. but meetings by their nature are just bringing people together to share views and find agreement to make decisions.
In today’s Gospel we hear of an historic meeting of the Sanhedrin council called specially to discuss what to do with Jesus after the chief priests heard about him raising Lazarus from the dead. They all share their views amidst fear for their future, their city and their temple and so agree with the High Priest who says it is better for “one man to die for the nation”. They leave the meeting having decided to arrange for Jesus to put to death.
Jesus will of course allow the unjust decision of that meeting to be carried out. He will accept his Cross and his Death without resistance because at the heart of what we will commemorate in Holy Week is the generosity of Christ in giving of the precious gift of his life. Like Jesus, we should also be generous in giving to others not what is superfluous to us, but what is precious to us.
Thought for the day Thursday 2nd April
Jesus is very truthful in his conversation in today’s Gospel, in stating that “..before Abraham was, I Am”, he discloses his origins as the Eternal Word of God. The phrase “I Am” was a very sacred reference to God for the Jews. It is for that reason that they get so angry and instantly react to his words as they don’t believe him and instead find him to be guilty of blasphemy, and therefore want to stone him. Abraham is also our Father in faith but we believe Jesus is the Lord of all. May we constantly strive to see what we have in common with each other, rather than what is different. May we consider acts of selflessness and kindness for those we don’t even know, as ways of remembering our common origin and purpose.
Thought for the day Wed 1st April
In today’s first reading, three young Jewish men refuse to go against their faith and show their fearless trust in God. For this they are punished by the Babylonian king to face suffering and death by being thrown into the furnace. They are right to trust God, who in the face of the inevitability of death, performs a miracle whereby the three are amazingly untouched by the ferocious flames. In Jesus has also decided to put his trust in being obedient to the Father: In today’s Gospel he tells his listeners; “the truth will make you free”. For this, unlike the three young men, Jesus will go on to suffer and to die but this will result in the even bigger miracle of His Resurrection from the dead. As we head towards Holy Week and the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter, may we share their faith and hope in God as we also trustfully place all our fears into His hands.
Thought for the day Tues 31st March
Andy, one of the voluntary gardeners at St Mary’s has quite recently put up a bird feeder in our back garden. As things are a lot quieter for me at the moment, today I actually made time to look out of the window for a change as I sat at the breakfast table and waited. As I patiently watched, after a few minutes I did see some lovely birds using the feeder and it was a great sight to see. I will eventually need to invest in some binoculars and a “bird book” to see more clearly the type of birds that they are. However, I was fascinated by this and feel it was a great privilege to be at one with nature and It made me feel at one with God and his creation. I also thought that all this goes on around me and apart from the daily flight of noisy geese overhead each morning, and I am usually too busy to notice it. In these unusual times, let’s thank God for the opportunities that are presented to us to take notice of his hand at work in sustaining and inspiring all the beauty that he has created.
PS Anyone with any suggestions as to which birds I am likely to see in our Burnley garden would be most welcome.
Thought for the day for Monday 30th March
In today’s first reading two elders try to seduce an innocent woman, but when the alarm is called, they turn the tables on her and falsely accuse Susanna of doing what is unlawful, for which the penalty is death. Daniel, a man of God intervenes and the innocent women is set free; the two men are punished for their sin. In the Gospel the Jews try to trap Jesus by bringing before him a woman caught in act of adultery, for which the punishment is death by stoning; Jesus tells the accusers “let the one who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”: they walk away and the woman though not innocent is freed by the mercy of God and told to sin no more.
We are all sinners ourselves so we all need to receive the mercy of God and none of us would want to unfairly judged by others. We need to be very careful about falsely accusing others of things they might have done. I always feel a better way is to give people the benefit of the doubt and leave the judging to God.
Thought for the day Saturday 28th March
'Do not be afraid. You have won God's favour'.
The angel Gabriel may have said this to Mary thousands of years back as recorded in the Gospel of St Luke but these words are also addressed to us for whom God gave up His only begotten Son. Definitely we have His favour. We are important to Him because He cherishes us. He cares and will not allow us to be overwhelmed and eventually be destroyed by the menacing pandemic. The holy rosary, all other forms of devotions, like Scriptures and spiritual reading, serve to remind us of His love and closeness to us. As we spend this period indoors in our homes away from our normal Eucharistic weekly celebrations, may our faith and prayers sustain our spiritual lives and fortify us against the ravaging brutal enemy also known as COVID-19.
God has a vested interest in your life.
Thought for the day Friday 27th March
The readings for Mass today give a very strong hint of what is to come in the last part of our Lenten journey ~ when we move into Passiontide and the Cross. They speak of the mutterings of the crowd about who Jesus is and how the word is out that the authorities want to silence him, by his death. However, as the book of Wisdom says; “they do not know the hidden things of God”. In the Gospel, Jesus openly speaking of his relationship with the Father in the Temple, uses similar words: “…and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him”. Despite the gathering clouds of gloom, Jesus in his utter obedience to His Father, remains confident about who is he is and what his mission continues to be. May we share in the Lord’s confidence and trust with any fears we may be experiencing at the moment.
Thought for the Day, Thursday 26th March
In the Gospel for Mass today, Jesus is trying to convince the Jews to believe in who he is. He uses common ground, mentioning the role of John the Baptist, who was someone who they did respect and value. We occasionally find ourselves disagreeing with other people and we find ourselves trying to convince people about our opinion or what we hold to be true. In such encounters I think it’s important to also try to find common ground as Christ did. Therefore rather than try to “score points” off others as we sometimes try to do in our arguments, I feel it is better to put our view across clearly and calmly but at the same time seek to leave others feeling they have been listened to and treated with fairness and compassion.
Thought for the Day, Wednesday 25th March
Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is a beautiful feast day and the Gospel for today is the account in St Luke of the visit to Our Lady by the Angel Gabriel whereby Mary is asked to be the Mother of God. Mary says yes to God with the words “Let it be done to me according to your Word”. She totally meant those words and continued to faithfully affirm this commitment right through all the uncertainties, joys and sorrows that followed this momentous moment in her life as the Mother of Christ.
In these days when we are unable to come to Mass, perhaps more frequent connection throughout the day with the Lord in prayer would be good. One suggestion might to pray the Angelus prayer (see below) twice daily around Midday and 6pm. It is largely based on the encounter of Our Lady with the Angel Gabriel and only takes a couple of minutes to pray. In these days of uncertainty, may Our Lady gently urge us to trust the Lord as she did in the uncertain times in her own life.
Leader: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
R: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit
Leader: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R: Be it done unto me according to thy Word.
Leader: And the Word was made Flesh.
R: And dwelt amongst us.
Leader: Pray for us, Most Holy Mother of God.
R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Leader: Let us Pray.
Pour forth, we beseech you O Lord, Thy grace unto our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.