God does not have any favourites, but anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God!

Prayer

As Catholics, and as the Church, reflects on the result of the Irish referendum on Gay marriage, it may be helpful to read, or re-read, a homily preached by Cardinal Vincent at a recent pastoral visit to Farm Street parish.

His visit coincided with a bimonthly Mass attended by Westminster’s LGBT group, who moved to the parish from Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory’s in Piccadilly about two years ago.

The Mass took place near to the anniversary of the group’s founding date in April 1999, following the homophobic attack on the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho in 1999, in which three people were killed and about 70 injured.

Some dates for the Year of Mercy

Logo for Holy Year of Mercy

This Jubilee Year, announced by Pope Francis on April 11, starts Dec. 8, 2015, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the day on which the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica will be opened.

The Jubilee Year ends on Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

For background to the year, read Misericordiae vultus, in which Pope Francis details the aims of the Holy Year.

To keep up to date on developments go to the official website for the Jubilee has already been launched.

April 3: a celebration for those who in various ways are inspired “by a charism of mercy,” in movements, associations, and religious institutes.

April 24: a special celebration for young people aged between the ages of 13 and 16, this will be some months before World Youth Day, which will be held in Krakow, July 26-31, and is largely for  youth of an older age bracket.”

May 29: A jubilee will be held for deacons “who by their vocation and ministry are called to preside in works of charity in the life of the Christian community.”

June 3: 160th anniversary of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and a celebration for priests.

June 12: a celebration with the sick and disabled, and those who care for them.

Sept. 4: a celebration with charitable volunteers will gather from all over the world. “A volunteer is a dynamic witness of someone who lives the works of mercy in its various expressions and deserves to

Oct. 9: a celebration of Mary, as the Mother of Mercy.

Sept. 25: A celebration for catechists who, “in transmitting the life of faith, support Christian communities and, in particular, our parishes in a decisive way.”

Nov. 6: a celebration with and for those in prison.

The above dates are for celebrations in Rome. It is likely that the celebrations in Rome will find themselves echoed in celebrations in each Local Church, ie each diocese, and in its parishes and communities. The resources being prepared in the Proclaim ’15 initiative will be helpful for each diocese/parish in considering how to proceed.

Symbols for the beginning of Lent

At Baptism, after the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. we use a range of symbols and actions to engage us with the meaning of Baptism

  • Anointing with chrism which signifies our sharing in Christ’s ministry and priest, prophet and king.
  • Dressing in a white garment as a sign of the new life received in the sacrament of regeneration.
  • Lighting a baptismal candle from the Easter flame of the Paschal Candle.

Lent is a season in which adults are preparing for baptism, and in which the already baptised prepare to renew their baptismal promises and enter more fully into the paschal mystery of death and resurrection in Christ.

The final days of preparation for Lent and its first day have their symbols too.

Lent bandsThis year we had Lenten wristbands distributed on the last Sunday before Lent. Lent 15 : Jesus loves us and walks with us each day. Wearing them helps with the preparation and keeps us mindful during Lent.

The quotation comes from Pope Francis and features in the Proclaim ’15 initiative in England and Wales, a work for the new evangelisation.

Lent is for our benefit. God calls us to be of benefit to the world he loves.

Parishioners who missed out on Sunday can collect them tonight (Shrove Tuesday) at the special service of Evening Prayer – or next Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent.

burning_palmsAt the simple prayer service tonight – Shrove Tuesday – we praise God for his faithfulness, and then burn palms from last year’s Palm Sunday procession.

The ashes from the fire are used tomorrow for smearing on our foreheads as a sign of sinfulness, mortality, repentance and trust.

Shrove Tuesday pancakes

But before we come to Ash Wednesday we both feast and clear out our food cupboards in preparation for the fasting and abstinence of Ash Wednesday and Lent.

So, tonight, after prayer we feast on pancakes and other delicious foods!

Lent begins tomorrow….

ashwednesdayTomorrow’s symbol is the imposition of ashes, pure and simple. The sobriety of the day keeps us focused on the Lord and his wonders, on his love and our need for it.

Want a rubber band? Come back Sunday….

Images:

  • Burning of palms found here.
  • Pancakes found here.
  • Ashed forehead found here.
  • Rubber bands (c) 2015, Allen Morris.