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Saturday, December 20, 2014
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The Great 'O' Antiphons: O Clavis David - December 20th
The Great 'O' Antiphons: O Clavis David - December 20th

We forget just how important keys are until we lose them, then it’s a frantic search in all kinds of places and if as sometimes happens, we shut our car keys in the car or lose the house key, urgent telephone calls for help! To be locked out of somewhere is not a pleasant experience and it leaves us feeling disorientated and helpless. What a relief it is when we finally can unlock the door and enter! So important were keys to our ancestors that in many societies they became a badge of authority.

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The Great 'O' Antiphons: O Radix Jesse - December 19th
The Great 'O' Antiphons: O Radix Jesse - December 19th

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.

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The Great 'O' Antiphons: 18th December - O Adonai
The Great 'O' Antiphons: 18th December - O Adonai

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.

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The Great ‘O’ Antiphons - December 17th - December 23rd
The Great ‘O’ Antiphons - December 17th - December 23rd

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’.

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Third Sunday of Advent 2014 - Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons
Third Sunday of Advent 2014 - Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons

The prophecies of Isaiah which we hear all though Advent, have long been some of my favourite pieces of scripture. There is contrast and colour, light and dark, intensity and joy, sorrow and despondency, but always the pilgrimage towards a time to come of hope and peace! The passage used on the third Sunday of Advent, taken from Isaiah 61 is especially poignant given the troubled state we Christians find ourselves caught up in throughout our world. 

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A Pastoral Letter to White Americans by Jim Wallis
A Pastoral Letter to White Americans by Jim Wallis

The stories of young black men being killed by white police are sparking a national conversation. However, public responses to these painful stories reveal an alarming racial divide.  From an unarmed teenager killed in Ferguson, Missouri to a 12 year-old boy shot dead in Cleveland; to a white police officer on video choking a black man to death in New York City; and a startling series of similar stories from across the country and over many decades — our reactions show great differences in white and black perspectives.

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Second Sunday of Advent  2014 - Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons
Second Sunday of Advent 2014 - Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” is an acclamation heard so clearly in Isaiah and Mark this Sunday, a cry that resonates in all corners of our problem filled world, which is very much in need of the Lord. There is absolutely no doubt that we are called to ecumenism in the Church of Christ, reaching out across barriers is so much part of the mission Jesus shows us in his teaching and example, a ministry echoed in the great documents of the Second Vatican Council particularly the Decree on Ecumenism. 

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Letter from St Francis Xavier to St Ignatius Loyola
Letter from St Francis Xavier to St Ignatius Loyola

Today is the feast of St Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Missionaries. It's also the first week in the Year of Consecrated Life. Here is an extract from a letter St Francis wrote to St Igniatius Loyola during a visit to Japan. The theology is a little different from today's but the spirit is completely relevant...'Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity! ... I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, 

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Viewpoint:  Middle East Christians - An ecumenism of suffering
Viewpoint: Middle East Christians - An ecumenism of suffering

I am very involved with different groups both in the academic and church world, who are trying to draw attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Recently at the Centre for Eastern Christianity at Heythrop College a lecture on the current situation in Syria and Iraq was given by the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo SJ. He gave a concise but broad overview of the historical background to Christians in both countries, then dealt with the present situation and potential for the future

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First Sunday in Advent 2014 - Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons
First Sunday in Advent 2014 - Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons

Here in Western Europe, especially in our crowded busy cities, people live very rushed, frenetic lives. We are used to instant news, sound-bites that catch the imagination but require little more than listening. To ‘help’ us understand, out trot the various media celebrities, so called ‘experts’ who endlessly explain what is going on and how they see things. The trouble is so much of what is said is only opinion, yet people seem to accept it as a form of truth! But there is a divine antidote to this.

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons:  Feast of Christ the King
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons: Feast of Christ the King

... For me the Lord Jesus is not a ‘ruler’ of mind and heart, he does not possess me as a chattel or subject, rather Christ is the one I seek to love and follow. He is the prototype, we are the icon of him, reflecting his love and presence through our lives. It’s wise to remember that Jesus pointed out his kingdom was not of this world, in those hours where he was mocked and reviled before his death on the cross. This type of ‘King’ is a servant and friend, one whose role is to be totally with others in all situations, who will welcome us as friends in his Kingdom.

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons:  16 November 2014
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons: 16 November 2014

Do you get annoyed by certain passages of scripture? Take the ‘perfect wife’ image from Proverbs, no doubt suitable in its historical context, but how many of us agree with that passive , dependent image? Try this, substitute perfect ‘husband’, ‘partner’ or ‘friend’ for wife, change the occupation a bit and then see how it feels to you! It doesn’t rest easy does it? Never mind, it does its job, shakes us up to actually think about several things, firstly of partnership between people, is there ever a ‘perfect person’? Well no, because its a work in progress!

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Fr Robin Gibbons: Chasing the Silence
Fr Robin Gibbons: Chasing the Silence

How did you keep the two minute silence both on Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day today? The practice of keeping the two minutes silence at 11 o’clock on November 11th seems to have returned from a period where it had fallen into disquietude, in fact we owe it to the British Legion who petitioned for it to be restored in 1995. Perhaps I am just growing old, but as the years move onwards this simple act of stopping what we are doing and being still grows ever more powerful in my emotional memory. I think this is partly because we are an age of ‘wordage’, noise, 

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J&P Reflection: The Sack of Plenty
J&P Reflection: The Sack of Plenty

Before the workshops began at Westminster Justice and Peace Study Day, on Saturday afternoon, Fr Joe Ryan told the following story,  entitled:  'The Sack of Plenty'...... One night, a sack of grain appeared in a poor part of town... Early in the morning some birds came and helped themselves to breakfast... Later a mouse came and had his meal... Then a family came, took a bowl of food, enough for the day... The mid-morning, the Mayor of the town came by,

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Remembrance Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons 9 November 2014
Remembrance Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons 9 November 2014

I haven’t yet been to see the 888,246 ceramic red poppies filling the moat of the Tower of London, but I shall go! It is estimated that four million people will have queued to visit what is now a well loved and respected monument to the fallen of WWI by November 11th. Because of popular demand, part of the exhibition will remain until the end of November before parts of it will travel round the country. Those who have visited, found it a very moving experience. The poppy is of course an ambivalent symbol, the flower itself is a weed 

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 9 November 2014 (i)  Dedication of  Lateran Basilica
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 9 November 2014 (i) Dedication of Lateran Basilica

Why on earth does the Roman Church celebrate the Dedication of the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Rome, the Lateran Basilica? The fact it replaces the Sunday cycle hints that it is not just a feast concerning a building. It must have another meaning which links it to a celebration of Christ! The readings for the feast hint at this image of a building that is a place of holiness because it connects people with God, moving us away from seeing the building as important in itself no matter how beautiful or ancient it might be!

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Reflection: Are poor sermons leaving  you hungry?
Reflection: Are poor sermons leaving you hungry?

For well over a year now, on two continents, I have found myself sitting in the pews and a recipient of the Sunday homily. It’s been an interesting experience; I have heard some well-prepared, gifted and insightful preachers. Unfortunately, I have also heard some homilies that are ill-prepared, badly thought through, poorly delivered, boring, offer little inspiration and make virtually no connection between daily life and God’s Word. The Liturgy documents teach that we are fed at the Table of the Word, which then leads us to being fed at the Table of the Eucharist. All too often 

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All Saints Day Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons
All Saints Day Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons

I was very privileged to be at the farewell Eucharist of the Bishop of Oxford on the 30th October. A moving occasion with Christ Church filled to capacity, there were many significant moments to show how much the Anglican and wider Christian Church has benefited by, and appreciated, Bishop John’s careful shepherding. In his sermon he made a number of points but one struck me as particularly apt, that as Christians we belong to a family which tries to make a difference, the expression of it found in communities throughout the world,

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 26  October 2014
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 26 October 2014

Have you ever had that feeling of being a complete stranger in a foreign place? I don’t simply mean being on holiday, when we are visiting somewhere abroad for the first time and therefore find it all a real adventure of new discoveries, what I’m thinking of is that sense of really being in an alien, ‘other’, cultural setting where we have nothing to hold on to, everything being unfamiliar? If you say no, then think again. I suspect all of us have had this sense of dispossession, feeling really lost and alone, perhaps the innocent victim of somebodies nastiness at some point or another.

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 19 October 2014
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 19 October 2014

When I am in a reflective mood, there are times when I wonder if I am a hypocrite like those Jesus mentions in Matthew's Gospel today. In various ways a hypocrite seeks to deceive others by showing a different external side of themselves from the truthful inner reality. Being a priest, and because people expect quite a lot from me, I am aware that my words and actions as somebody with a particular pastoral role, does not always match up with what I really think or believe or do. That’s always a problem with those in public life, we have to 

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Saint Frideswide of Oxford  - Feast October 19th
Saint Frideswide of Oxford - Feast October 19th

For those of us who live in a faith community where saints form part of the cycle of our liturgical calendar, it is a delight when we find that one of them captures not just the imagination but one’s soul. In spiritual terms we connect with them at a deep level, difficult to describe but very real in practice, and for us and others like us, across time and eternity a glimmer of friendship sparks, hinting not only at the transitory and pilgrimage road of earthly life but also a sense of companionship on our way with those who have already travelled the route.

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Reflection: Combating with Love - The Case of Ebola
Reflection: Combating with Love - The Case of Ebola

The chaos related to the Ebola virus has led to the stigmatization of those infected with the disease, their families and on a global level, the affected countries and Africa as a whole. Now with some cases being recorded in other parts of the world, fear of an uncontrollable disease with a potential to eliminate humanity looms. While every possible precaution is required to combat its spread, the stigma of the victims, the affected countries and Africa deepens. However, it is the media’s obligation to help those involved in the fight to inform 

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 13 October 2014
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 13 October 2014

I find the last section of Matthew’s parable about the King and the Wedding Banquet (Mt 22:1-14) very disquieting and violent, it’s very unlike Luke’s version (Lk 14:7-14) which has a more balanced ending, admonishing us to be inclusive and welcoming at the Banquet of the Lord. What is different about Matthews story? Not only is it the violence and killing that accompanies the search for guests and then the command of the King for the servants to compel good and bad alike to attend, it’s also his fierce behaviour towards the guest who came to the feast 

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons -  5 October 2014
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 5 October 2014

How often do you see something without really recognising what it is? I do that all the time, in fact sometimes when I am very distracted by things on my mind, I can completely ignore people I know well, pass them by in my own ’cloud of unknowing’, usually to have them stop me and say :’ You’ve got your head in the clouds, didn’t you see me calling to you?’ I’ve seen people but my self-absorption means I haven’t really perceived my friends! There’s a hint of that in Matthew’s parable of the Vineyard and the tenants who kill the landowner's son.

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Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons -  28 September 2014
Sunday Reflection with Fr Robin Gibbons - 28 September 2014

I like the parable of the two sons in Matthews Gospel, who, after being asked by their father to work in the vineyard respond in contrary ways: one says no and then decides to help, whilst the other having said yes does nothing. I like it because it touches several raw nerves with me. Like a lot of people trained in the Church (I was a Benedictine for a long time) ‘obedience’ is a word I know well. The whole thrust of discipleship and vocation is about saying ‘yes’ to God and putting others needs first, ‘your neighbour as yourself’.

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Displaying Articles 1 - 25 of 397
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