Our medieval Christian craftsmen and artists created wonderful Jesse trees, the sleeping Jesse at the base with a tree growing out of his loins and on each branch those ancestors of Christ opening out like leaves until we reach the final flowering of Mary with her child Jesus. Some Jesse trees can be found in manuscripts but there still remain wonderful examples in stained glass and wood and stone carving. Canterbury Cathedral has one fragment of a panel dating from 1150.
Read More ... Fr Robin Gibbons - Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014 12:23 am
God walks with us through history - even in the darkest times - Pope Francis said at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta today, during his homily. "God’s will has been to save us in history," the Pope said. Our salvation "is not sterile, as in a laboratory. No! It’s history. He has walked through history with his people. "Therefore there is no salvation without history. And to get to the point: history goes back a long time."
The Catholic Church in Sierra Leone remains on the front line in providing food and hygiene necessities to people living with the effects of the deadly Ebola virus. Bishop Henry Aruna, National Director of Missio in Sierra Leone, is grateful for the support of the Catholic community in England and Wales. Despite widespread help from around the globe, there has been a 66% increase of new cases each day during the last three weeks.
This morning Pope Francis spoke about his joy over the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba, saying this was a result of diplomacy. Speaking off-the-cuff with a group of non-resident Ambassadors to the Holy See the Holy Father said the work of an Ambassador is to take small steps aimed at building peace, bringing the hearts of people closer together and sowing brotherhood between peoples and nations. Later, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Pope Francis had played a very significant role
Catholic aid agency CAFOD hosted a special screening of the BAFTA-nominated film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, for over 100 of its young supporters, at The May Fair Hotel last week. The screening was followed by an exclusive Q&A session with the film’s award-winning director, Justin Chadwick. During the evening, Justin spoke about spending time with Mandela and his friends and family, the responsibility of making the film and his desire to place the relationship between Mandela and his wife Winnie firmly at the centre of the story.
The Catholic parish of St Peter Apostle Church, Leamington Spa has been busily preparing to deliver food and toy parcels to many local families in need this Christmas. Parishioners from St Peter Apostle Church, Leamington Spa have generously donated many hours of their time to others in the run up to Christmas: 78 parishioners gave time at the local supermarket to appeal for food donations to the Leamington Food Bank.
On a cold December night, St Chad's cathedral in Birmingham was packed for the annual Archbishop Romero Lecture. Welcomed by Archbishop Bernard Longley, the lecture was given by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams. Speaking about ‘A saint for the whole people of God: Oscar Romero and the ecumenical future’, Lord Williams highlighted his great admiration for Romero, adding his prayers "that next year may see Archbishop Romero recognised for what he undoubtedly is: one of the great gifts of God
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with outstretched arm. (Common Worship trans) Adonai is the Hebrew word meaning ‘My Lord’ used by Jews as a substitution for the holy name of God which a cannot be spoken, and so is a reminder of the heritage the Christian community recieves from the people of Israel, the first to hear the promise of the future Messiah.
Read More ... Fr Robin Gibbons - Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2014 12:33 am
Today (17 December) I had the grace of being invited to be present with the Syriac Orthodox Community in London when they hosted Prince Charles in their Church. It was a most beautiful and moving occasion but most of all it was one of encouragement, presence and solidarity for the Iraqi and Syrian Christians present in their hour of desperate need and anguish over the fate of their families, peoples and Nation. Prince Charles met with Archbishop Athanasius and many of his congregation - some who had fled Mosul
Read More ... Antonia Moffat - Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2014 12:17 am
The Supreme Court has rejected the opportunity to uphold the right of conscientious objection for senior midwives who refuse to supervise abortions performed on a labour ward. Today's decision issued in the Supreme Court has been condemned by those who backed the Glasgow midwives' fight for their right to work in the NHS without being involved in abortions. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) which paid the midwives’ legal expenses throughout the case
Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School in St Alban's, opened up the school to the wider community today to hold a special event for senior citizens in the area. The idea, suggested by the head boy and girl team earlier this year was developed by numerous sixth formers and teachers who dedicated their time to create an enjoyable afternoon. The event was Christmas themed and held in the school main hall with a large Christmas tree and decorative tables.
Read More ... Nicole Kelly - Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 11:35 pm
Pope Francis today offered his congratulations to the governments of the United States and Cuba, as they announced the two countries will start talks on resuming diplomatic relations. A statement from the Vatican Secretariat of State said that in recent months the Pope had written to both Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama, inviting them to “resolve humanitarian questions of common interest”. The Holy See also met with delegations from both countries last October,
The Catholic Church has condemned the attack on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 132 children and nine staff yesterday. “This is a barbaric, inhuman and cowardly act,” Cecil Chaudhry, executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said. “It is beyond imagination how innocent children of army personnel could be targeted like this. The only path, the only answer to the terrible massacre
Christmas is a time of good cheer and consumer excess for many but in this rich country it is also a time when the growing levels of poverty become most visible. Nowhere is that more so this year than with the growing numbers of people going to foodbanks. The Trussell Trust, which runs the nationwide network of foodbanks, reports 913,000 going to foodbanks over the past year – an increase of 129,000. The Trust point out that there have been 500,000 people coming to foodbanks
Read More ... Paul Donovan - Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 6:35 pm
Downing Street today announced that the new Bishop of Stockport - and the first woman bishop in the Church of England - will be the Revd Libby Lane, currently Vicar of St Peter's, Hale, and St Elizabeth's, Ashley. As Bishop of Stockport she will serve as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport at a ceremony at York Minster on Monday 26 January 2015. Libby Lane was ordained as a priest in 1994 and has served a number of parish and chaplaincy roles
There was a festive atmosphere at the weekly General Audience today, as Pope Francis celebrated his 78th birthday. As he made his way through the crowds, Pope Francis stopped by a group of seminarians from the Legionnaires of Christ, who offered him a birthday cake, complete with lighted candles. The Holy Father also took the opportunity to take a sip of maté tea, the traditional Argentinian drink, offered by pilgrims. On the Via della Conciliazione... tango enthusiasts danced in the street
MPs are right to demand that a strong ‘green thread’ runs through all the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Christian Aid have said in response to a report by the Environmental Audit select committee. They are also right to insist on the importance of a goal focused on climate change - and to warn Ministers against oversimplifying the SDGs, which governments are currently negotiating and which will be agreed by world leaders later in 2015.
One of the great treasures of the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours are the ‘O’ antiphons that accompany the Gospel Canticle of the Magnificat, sung at Evening Prayer from the 17th to the 23rd of December. They are wonderful poetic and scriptural images of Christ, taken from the prophecies of Isaiah. There are seven of them, and each one unfolds in a sequence starting with Christ the Word and Wisdom of God at creation, the ‘logos’ of John’s Gospel, and ending with the nativity, Emmanuel, ‘God-is-with-us’.
Read More ... Fr Robin Gibbons - Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 11:21 pm
Australia's Catholic bishops have joined with people throughout the nation in prayer and sympathy for all those affected by the Martin Place cafe siege in Sydney that ended today with the deaths of three people. Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement: “We pray for all who were held hostage during the siege, especially those who tragically lost their lives. May the surviving hostages quickly heal and find new peace in their lives.
The Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014, published by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), has been presented to the European Parliament in Brussels. Speaking to an audience of 110 invited MEPs and NGO representatives, the report’s Chairman of the Editorial Committee, Peter Sefton-Williams, invited the European policy-makers “to call on religious leaders to speak together against religiously-inspired violence.”
Read More ... John Pontifex - Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 10:40 pm
Catholic seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) is responding to the Holy Father’s call to religious and priests to ‘wake up’ the world with their testimonies of faith. During a meeting of AoS regional coordinators for East Africa, South Africa and Indian Ocean in Mauritius late last month, AoS Immingham port chaplain Fr Colum Kelly from Great Britain shared his experience as a priest and a port chaplain.
Reflecting on the day's readings during Mass at Casa Santa Marta, today, (Tuesday) Pope Francis spoke on the need for humility. God saves "a repentant heart" while he who does not trust in Him draws "condemnation" upon himself. Humility saves man in God’s eyes, while pride is a loser. The key lies in the heart. The heart of a humble person is open, knows repentance, accepts correction and trusts in God. The heart of the proud person is the exact opposite: it is arrogant, closed, knows no shame,
Thirty churches and chapels in England, Wales and Scotland are set to benefit from grants totalling £550,000 from the National Churches Trust. Churches receiving funding include St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, in Blantyre, Scotland which receives a £40,000 National Churches Cornerstone Grant to help fund urgent repairs including re-slating of all roofs, renewing leadwork, restoration of stained and leaded glass windows and minor stone and pointing repairs.
Children at Our Lady and St Joseph Primary School in Lymington, Hampshire, on the edge of the New Forest, have become the first in the South of England to start up a Mini Vinnies group to do good deeds and have fun at the same time. Mini Vinnies, an initiative of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), provides primary school-aged children with a way to put their faith into practice. They meet once a week and run various activities to help raise money for charity and help their community.
Read More ... Anita Boniface - Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 4:55 pm
Every year, since their foundation in 1948, significant international thinkers have been invited by the BBC to present a series of talks or lectures in honour of Lord Reith, the first DG of the BBC. For him, the BBC’s mission was to be a public service which enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. It is in this spirit that the invitations are made to people who have both expertise and a vision to share concerning serious and important contemporary issues. I have had the benefit this year
Read More ... Judy Dixey - Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 4:33 pm