Sunday Coffee Morning online

We are now able to attend Mass in person, however, we are not yet able to
hold our coffee mornings in person.

The space is open for those who want to socialise and get to know other members of the St Theresa’s community. Every Sunday we hold a quick fun quiz and a bit of a chat from the comfort of your own home.

When? Sundays at 11.10 am

Where? Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83024819984.

Everyone is welcome!

Feast of Corpus Christi

by Deacon Des

Today, we celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. This Solemnity is three feasts in one: the feast of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the feast of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the feast of the Real Presence of Jesus in this Sacrament. Although we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday, the Church wants to emphasise its importance by a special feast, formerly called “Corpus Christi.” It was Pope Urban IV who first extended the feast to the universal Church. This is one of the few feasts left in which we observe a pre-Gospel procession and a sung “Sequence.”

In the reforms of Vatican II, Corpus Christi was joined with the feast of the Precious Blood (July 1) to become the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Today we celebrate Christ’s gift to us of the Eucharist, the Source and Summit of our life together as the Church. The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563), declared that we must honour Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Faith of Catholics in the Most Holy Eucharist [that others] might be attracted to the Eucharistic Lord and believe in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in this great Sacrament. “The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with His Soul and Divinity by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. This takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.”

Why do we celebrate the Eucharist some 2,000 years later? We do this because Jesus told us to do so: “Do this in memory of me.” St. Augustine in the 5th century AD said it best when he said: “It is your Mystery, the Mystery of your life that has been placed on the altar.” This Holy Memorial is known by various names:
1) “The Eucharist” because Jesus offered himself to God the Father as an act of thanksgiving; 2) “The Lord’s Supper” – or “The Breaking of the Bread”- because we celebrate it as a meal; 3) “Holy Communion” because, we become one with Christ by receiving him; and 4) “Holy Mass” (holy sending), because it gives us a mission: “Go in peace glorifying God by your life.”

Today we should also remember our children preparing to make their First Holy Communion, with the wonderful account of the remarkable experience of Blessed Imelda Lambertini. She lived in Bologna, Italy, in the 1300s. She had wanted to be a nun from the time she was a little girl, and she joined that Dominican convent at the age of nine, to better prepare herself for the day when she would take the habit. Her greatest desire was to receive Holy Communion, but in those days, you had to be at least twelve years old to do so. Imelda begged for an exception to the rule, but the chaplain refused. She kept praying for special permission. Her prayers were miraculously answered on the Feast of the Ascension in 1333. After Mass, she stayed in her place in the chapel, where one of the nuns was putting away the sacred vessels. Suddenly, the nun heard a noise and turned towards Imelda. Hovering in mid-air in front of Imelda as she knelt in prayer was a sacred host, the Blessed Eucharist, shining with a bright and forceful light. The frightened nun ran to find the chaplain. By the time the chaplain arrived, the rest of the nuns and other onlookers had crowded, awe-struck, into the chapel. When the priest saw the shining, hovering host, he put on his vestments, went over to the girl, took the miraculous host in his hands, and gave her Holy Communion.

Some minutes later, after the crowd had dispersed, the mother superior came over to Imelda to call her for breakfast. She found the girl still kneeling, with a smile on her face. But Imelda was dead. She had died of love, in ecstasy after receiving Christ in the Eucharist. He had longed to be with her even more than she had longed to be with him. Blessed Imelda’s body is incorrupt, and you can still see it today in the Church where she is interred, in Bologna. She is the patron saint of First Holy Communicants.

Easter Sunday Reflection

by David Morson

In I Corinthians, St Paul writes,” If Christ is not Risen then Our Faith is in vain”.
Easter Sunday is a Day of Great Joy because Jesus overcomes the powers of darkness to restore all humanity to new life in God. In the Orthodox Church people process in to the unlit Church and one Candle is lit to the cry, “Christ is Risen”. Then slowly and steadily the light passes from one person’s candle to the next, until the Church is ablaze with radiant light. This lovely ceremony symbolises the way that Jesus comes out of the darkness of the Tomb as a Light to the World and how one by one His risen presence is transferred through us in the lit candles, one after another. So, we too are brought out into the radiant life of God when sin and death have been conquered giving us a joyous new beginning. Moreover, hope, that even though we die,we will rise again.

The narrative of what happened on this wonderful day will be read at Mass, so I will not try to record that here, except to share one lovely aspect of the story that I find very human and a little amusing. In St John’s Gospel, after Mary encounters the empty tomb, she finds Peter and “the disciple Jesus loved” (coded language for St John himself, the youngest disciple) and tells them what she has seen. We are then told by St John in his Gospel, that the two disciples” run” to the tomb, ” but the other disciple” (John) outran Peter. However he waits for Peter “who was behind him,” to catch up before going in. If anyone thinks this story is made up, why would St John go in into such minute and vaguely humorous detail to describe what happened on that wondrous morning. What a lovely human touch!

Can I wish everybody a peaceful and joyous Easter. God bless you all.

David

Holy Saturday Reflection

by David Morson

Holy Saturday is sometimes seen as a break or interlude between the seemingly despondent events of Good Friday and the rejoicing in the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. But, our Apostle’s Creed states that Jesus “descended in to Hell” during this period.

This has become known as the “Harrowing Of Hell” It is a difficult concept, but it relates to the mystery of all those good souls who lived and died before Jesus’s Sacrifice and how they now became free to share in the Salvation brought about by His Death.

The Church’s great Ceremony of the Easter Vigil which takes place in the evening of Holy Saturday, also focuses on such new beginnings.

In the Service, there is a time when new Members of the Church are Baptised or Confirmed, initiating a new beginning for both them and us.

Finally, Holy Saturday is a time when we reflect upon the unwavering ministry of Jesus’ women followers. It was them who remained with Jesus at the foot of the Cross when all the male disciples fled and hid. Their faithful presence is recorded in all Four Gospels. Their love for the Lord was not broken by His Death. They saw the tomb where His Body was laid and watched the stone being put into place. They were the one’s who lamented and mourned. They formed the first small community who maintained Hope in the Lord’s Sacrifice. They were the ones who discovered the Empty Tomb when they came early on Sunday Morning to anoint the Body….and it was one of their number, Mary Magdalene, who was the first person to whom the Risen Lord appeared.

Maundy Thursday Reflection

by David Morson

The word “Maundy” derives from the Latin for “Mandate”. This is usually associated with foreign affairs or military diplomacy. For example, after World War I Britain was given Mandates for Palestine, Trans Jordan and Iraq and France for Lebanon and Syria. The idea was that an experienced country, should guide and promote an inexperienced country to independence and fulfilment and then withdraw when they are ready to stand alone. So, in order to explore how this translates to our story of Salvation, I am going to focus today on St John’s account of the message of Maundy Thursday.

Before starting, can I refer back to the first Reflections, namely, The Pascal Mystery and the Last Supper, the Two Gardens and St Paul’s theology of Jesus as The “2nd Adam”, Maximillian Kolbe and Self Sacrifice and finally, the Reflection on Caiaphas and the illegality of the Trial of Jesus, as it won’t be possible to cover it all today. Could I also suggest that you Google, ” Jesus Of Nazareth ;The Last Supper “and watch the moving rendition of the institution of the Eucharist The extract takes 5 minutes 58 seconds.

Back to the idea of Maundy or Mandate, St John’s Gospel is very different from the first three Gospels. Although like them it is factual, St John theorises the events He records in a way the other three don’t.

So on Maundy Thursday, St John has Jesus giving a very long discourse or teaching prior to the Supper itself, which is not found in the other Gospels and it is here that He relates the concept of the Mandate which is ” Maundy” Thursday.

Everything Jesus does and says on that night is about love and sharing. There is an inclusive Act of Love when Jesus Washes the Disciples feet. There is an inclusive Act of Love in Sharing a Meal with His friends, as He had done before with tax collectors and sinners and in the Feeding of The 5,000. There is an inclusive Act of Love in Saying “Take This and Eat and Drink “All of You”, and there is an overriding inclusive Act of Love in the Words , “This is My Body and This is My Blood which will be given up for you and for the forgiveness of sins”.

So, disciples of Jesus’ are Mandated by Him to do the “Same”. “You are my disciples if you obey my commandments… Love one another as I have loved you”. ..Just as I am in the Father and The Father is In Me, so I am in You… I am the Vine and You are The Branches … I call you servants no longer but friends who know their Master’s Bidding….. Love One Another as I have loved you…”No greater love has any Man than He who lays down His Life for His Friends”.

Jesus’ in His Sacrifice gives us all the Mandate to start anew by living a life of love and sharing. If we share in the life of Jesus as His disciples, we also share in the life of the Father and as such, have eternal life.

Spy Wednesday (Holy Wednesday) Reflection

by David Morson

After the verbal conflict between Jesus and the Temple Authorities yesterday, the Chief Priests were determined to arrest Jesus and have Him put to death.

They could not do this in the open because of the large crowds listening to Jesus’ words and who according to Mark were,” spellbound by His Teaching”. They were also aware that Pilate, the Roman Governor, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover would expect Caiaphas as High Priest to keep the festivities peaceful.

Their actions then, were both motivated by anger at Jesus’s criticism and jealousy, but also fear of some sort of disturbance or popular unrest instigated by Jesus’s popularity which would lead to retribution by the Romans. Caiaphas was aware of the popular clamour for a Messiah to overthrow Roman rule. The Passover meant massive crowds were present in Jerusalem and the situation was potentially volatile. That is why he said, “It is better for one Man to die for the sake of the nation”, Their problem in arresting Jesus was answered when Judas came to them and offered to betray Jesus to them. Thus the name, “Spy Wednesday”.

There is no real evidence for why Judas would want to do this.

St Mark tells us that he went to the Priests following the incident where a woman anoints Jesus at Bethany with spikenard, a very expensive ointment, used in funerary arrangements. Some present, and we are not told who, complained that this was a waste and could have been sold for a year’s wages. So, was it anger or jealousy which made Judas go the Priests? St Mark tells us the Priests were pleased and promised to give Judas money, but no mention of the amount. It is in St Matthew’s account of the incident that 30 pieces of silver are mentioned. This was to show the fulfilment of another prophesy of Zechariah which pointedly refers to God’s replacing the unworthy shepherds of the people with Someone who is worthy.

St Luke states that Judas significantly agreed to look out for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowds were present. St John doesn’t mention Judas’ act of betrayal until the Last Supper, but both Luke and John explain his actions by the,” the devil entering his heart”. Other theories postulate that Judas might have been trying to advance Jesus’ Messianic claim by manipulating circumstances, but there is no evidence for this. So, the scene is now set for the climax of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. But Judas’ motivation in this tense drama, is still a mystery.

It is interesting that St Mark always refers to Judas as ,”one of the Twelve” when he mentions his name, as if to emphasise that Judas was in fact one of the apostles. Discipleship is a big theme of St Mark’s Gospel and whilst not excusing Judas, St Mark is critical of all the Apostles’ lack of awareness of Jesus’ Mission, as He had warned them about His forthcoming Passion and Death on three separate occasions. Then, they would have realised that the woman with the ointment was preparing Him for His Death.

Peter, the Leader of the group denied Jesus three times, and the others could not stay awake with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and abandoned Him when He was arrested. So, Mark sees Judas’s actions as part of a general lack of understanding of Jesus’ Mission which only became apparent to them after His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Temple Tuesday (Holy Tuesday) Reflection

by David Morson
St Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the Four Gospels and usually reads like an exhaustive itinerary of Jesus going here and there, teaching, healing, meeting people. But, during Holy Week, Mark goes into great detail on what happened on Tuesday, now known as “Temple Tuesday”.
Jesus returns to the Temple in Jerusalem where he had driven out the money changers the day before. His enemies were waiting for Him and were ready with a series of trick questions which they hoped would discredit Him with the crowds or lead Him to say something which they could use against Him.
They consisted of Pharisees meaning “separate ones” who believed they kept the Law of Moses more strictly than others. The Sadducees, an aristocratic group, descendants of Zadok the Priest. The did not want to upset Rome whom they relied upon for their privileged position and wealth. The Herodians were the followers of Herod Antipas who was in the City for the Passover and who also depended on Rome for his position. The Scribes were those who were experts in the Law and faithfully copied the Scriptures
By devoting so many verses to this day, Mark is aware that this is the dramatic  climax of the conflict between Jesus and His opponents, leading to their decision to have Jesus killed. He records in some detail the “cat and mouse” questions and answers.
First of all, Jesus is asked by whose Authority does He act. He puts the question back to them by asking was the Baptism of John the Baptist from God from heaven or earth. If they answered from heaven then why was he killed? If from earth, the people would be offended as John was revered as a Prophet.  As they could not say, then Jesus would not give them an answer.
They the ask whether it is lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar. If He said no, then He could be accused of treason. If He said Yes He would lose popularity as the people hated paying taxes to Rome. He asks them to show Him a coin with Caesar’s head on it and says therefore,”Give back to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is Gods’.
In between these two questions, Jesus tells a very pointed Parable about the Owner of a Vineyard (each representing God and Israel respectively). When the harvest came the owner (God) sent His servants (the Prophets) to bring in the fruits of the produce, but they are killed by the Tenants (those with Authority)  and so He sent His Son and Heir, believing at least they will listen to Him. But they killed Him too. So the Owner had no option but to offer the Vineyard to others.
This was a blatant declaration by Jesus that He knew what they were planning to do to Him. Other questions about the resurrection of the body, disbelieved by Sadducees and what was the Greatest commandment which Jesus reduced to “Love God and Your Neighbour”, all failed to trap or incriminate Jesus.
Jesus then warns the people about the Scribes and Pharisees who are full of their own importance, walking around with long flowing robes and taking the most important seats in the synagogue. He contrasts them with the Poor widow who had little ,but  who gave all she had to God.
His enemies would have arrested Jesus there and then but they were afraid of the crowds who flocked around Him to hear His words, so they decided they must arrest Him in secret and looked out for an opportunity to do so.

Fig Monday (Holy Monday) Reflection

06/04/2020
by David Morson
Monday of Holy Week has been designated Fig Monday because Jesus curses the Fig Tree for bearing no fruit. However, in Holy Week, only Matthew and Mark record this incident. John does not mention it at all and Luke records it much earlier in his Gospel 13:6-9, not as an incident which actually happened, like Matthew and Mark, but in parable form. So, it is somewhat of a mystery but most scholars believe real or parable it pointed is a message which relates to those in authority who make a great show of their faith but produce no results. Whatever, this sets the scene for the conflicts between Jesus and the Jewish Authorities in the next two days which were going to lead them to plot His Death.
Significantly, Matthew and Mark place this incident straight after Jesus has driven the money changers out of the Temple, stating that, “His Father’s House was a House of prayer and they had made it a den of thieves”.
There is so much to relate about this incident. The first Temple was built by Solomon 970 -930 BC  to House the Ark of The Covenant, the box containing the 10 Commandments. But, it was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians before taking the Jews into exile.  A new and more splendid Temple was started by Herod the Great which was not finished until 64AD and was again destroyed by the Romans in 70AD only the Western or “Wailing Wall” was left intact.
The structure of the Temple itself was based on an a exclusive religious hierarchy and status, which was totally at odds with the vision of Jesus for God’s human family where all His children were equally loved by the Father. At its centre, was the “Holy of Holies” where the presence of God, was venerated . Only 26 specially chosen Abia priests were allowed to enter its sanctuary, which was veiled off from view. Then came the Court of the Priests  containing the Court of Israel. Animal sacrifices were made in this Court. Next was the Court of Men, then the Court of Women and finally the Court of the Gentiles where traders sold birds and animals for sacrifice as offerings. Anyone with a disease, which was considered a sign of sinfulness those whom Jesus associated with most, were not allowed into the Temple area. It is immensely significant that we are told, that when Jesus died, the curtain of the Temple was ripped apart so signalling an inclusive salvation for all people won by Jesus’ sacrifice.
Because pilgrims wanting to buy birds and animals for sacrifice could not use  gentile Roman coins they had to change them into Temple coins. It was considered common practice disliked by the poor, for such exchanges to financially favour the Temple currency. By overturning the money changer’s tables and driving them out, Jesus was totally challenging the Temple Authorities who wanted to arrest Him. But, He was protected by the crowd and begun to heal the sick before retiring to Bethany.
Lines had clearly been drawn between the teaching of Jesus and the practices of the chief priests in this dramatic start to the week.

Palm Sunday Rflection

by David Morson
There can be little doubt that Jesus intended to convey a message by the way He entered Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday. Because of their continual occupation by foreign powers, the hope among many of Jewish people was for a political Messiah, a military King, who would restore the Golden Age of an Independent Israel, as under the reign of King David’ .Many of the people greeting Jesus hopefully shouted, “Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David.” Jesus however shows that He totally rejects this concept of Messiahship by deliberately riding in to Jerusalem on a colt which He had asked two of His disciples to fetch in advance. By this action,  He meant to reflect the Prophecy of Zechariah that, ” a king would be coming to Jerusalem, humble and riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. The Prophecy continues that this king, riding on a donkey, will banish war from the land with no more war horses, chariots or bows, commanding peace to the nations, as a King of Peace. This was His Kingship to bring about a vision of a Kingdom of His Father. A Kingdom of gentleness, love, peace and harmony.
Contrast this with the entrance of Pontius Pilate into Jerusalem from his base in Caesarea, probably around the same time, but though through a different  Gate. This was an armed military procession with horses, standards and troops, reflecting the temporal power of an Empire which had subdued people by force and kept order and subjection in the same brutal way. Pilate was there to keep control during the crowded festival period and to represent the Emperor, who to Romans was the “Son Of God”.
This title, “Son of God” was also used in the ceremony to crown a new King of Israel as illustrated in the Psalms. Significantly, although the Gospel writers refer to Jesus  as the Son of God, Jesus did not use that title Himself because of the political connotations it carried with it. However, Jesus was welcomed by the crowds as a King with the waving of palms and  the putting down of cloaks to ease His way, as was the custom when rulers approached a city.
Later in the week, some of the same crowd were to see Jesus presented as a mock King with the crown of thorns mimicking the emperors wreath. But at the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, the Centurion who had been in charge of Jesus’ crucifixion  was able to say, ” surely this Man was the Son Of God”