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Saturday 12th August – Saturday 19th August 2023

AUGUST IS THE MONTH OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY


Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time/ The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Dear parishioners,


THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.

A meditation on the Litany of Loreto


In the Litany of Loreto, The Church calls on the Most Renowned Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us. We venerate Mary, the Most Venerable of all people and so address her with many colourful titles in the Litany. There are whole books you can read which offer meditations on all the titles we use in the Litany of Loreto, but as we prepare for Our Lady’s great feast day this coming Tuesday, I’d just like to look at them briefly with you.


Mary is The House of Gold. St. John Henry Newman explains the beautiful name House of Gold that Christian tradition has given to the Mother of God. She is compared to gold because it is the most precious metal. “Therefore it is that Mary too is called golden; because her graces, her virtues, her innocence, her purity, are of that transcendent brilliancy and dazzling perfection.” But she is more than this; she is a House of Gold because “She is the house and the palace of the Great King, of God Himself.” By giving birth to the Son of God, Mary is The Mother of the Creator, for in the beginning of time and the universe was the Word, and the Word was God that became flesh in her and dwelt among us. Jesus was born in this holy house of Mary; he took his flesh and blood from this house.


The House of Gold also has a reference to the Holy Eucharist. The vessels used in the Eucharist should always be made of the best material affordable. The ciborium and chalice, vessels for containing and distributing the Body and Blood of Christ at Holy Communion, until recently, have always been made of silver and lined with gold. The Monstrance too, used in Adoration and Benediction, is usually made of fine metals, sometimes inlaid with jewels. And what does the monstrance contain? The Lord, the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ. After the Annunciation, like the golden monstrance, within Mary was Jesus Christ our Lord and God. She is the House of Gold; and the monstrance, containing the Blessed Sacrament, is therefore a symbol of her and so not only because of what they contain, but also because of what they represent, Eucharistic Vessels should be the best and most beautiful a church can reasonably provide. In a similar way, we call Mary the Mystical Rose because only what is truly beautiful, inside -and -out, even to the blind, can represent her. (See the link below to an excellent clip of an inspiring young woman talking about her experience of the recent ‘World Youth Day’* and the sad lack of any visible reverence to the Body of Christ in the vessels used there that she witnessed herself)


Holy Mary, who is the Queen Conceived without original sin refers to the exceptional divine favour shown to the young woman of Nazareth in view of the motherhood announced to her. It also indicates more directly the effect of divine grace in Mary who was inwardly and permanently filled with grace and sanctified from the moment of her conception in St Anne, her mother. Mary’s whole being was ‘full of grace’. She was prepared through the unique grace of her own immaculate conception, to be the dwelling place of God, to bear God. Just as the Ark of the Covenant was the perfect container designed by God in the Old Testament, covered with pure gold within and without to carry his commandments inscribed on stone, so the Mother Most Pure bore Jesus Christ, Son of God. How much more would God want his Word, the Eternal Logos, Second Person of the Holy Trinity—Jesus—to have a perfect dwelling place! If the only begotten Son were to take up residence in the womb of a human girl, would he not make her flawless? No mother for the Son of God, could ever have been more amiable than Mary, who through the Incarnation is Mother Most Amiable to all of us, her children.


As Mother of Jesus Christ, Mary became The Seat of Wisdom. St John Henry Newman wrote that Mary has this title in her Litany, because the Son of God, who is also called in Scripture the Word and Wisdom of God, once dwelt in her, and then, after His birth, Jesus was carried in her arms and seated in her lap in his first years. Thus Mary’s lap became the human throne of Him who reigns in Heaven. But just as the Son of God sat on her lap, the Holy Spirit of God equally moved within her. Just as the Ark of the Covenant was gold on the outside and within, God was without and within Mary, the Mother of Divine Grace. It is like being at mass before Holy Communion, and Jesus is present outside us at the altar and in the tabernacle, but if we are true and committed disciples, having made our confession and received the grace of absolution, God the Holy Spirit can also move within us too. Mary is the Most Admirable example to us on how to prepare for Holy Communion and be present at mass in order to receive the Body of Christ within us in a state of grace. We can also always show outwardly our interior loving reverence of Jesus by receiving Him on the tongue and kneeling in the recognisably catholic and graceful way .


Because Mary always remained open to God’s Holy Spirit within her, she is the Spiritual Vessel. Commenting on this title, St. John Henry Newman says she was “spiritually-minded” which is to see things with faith and to live by faith. She is the Virgin Most Faithful to God, to her calling, and to us her children. In particular, he notes that to be such is to have spiritual conversation with God, to live a life of prayer. Mary had ‘an interior life of faith’ .The highest calling of all Human beings is to praise God from the depths of our being, which God created. It is our reason to be. Mary is for us a unique model of human vocation and so is also the Singular Vessel of Devotion to God. St. John Henry Newman wrote ‘This intense devotion to our Lord, forgetting self in love for him as St. Paul says, "I know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified." And again, "I live but now not I, but Christ lives in me’. Mary never said no to the Cross from the moment of her purification in the temple when Simeon told her ‘A sword will pierce your heart’. Mary did not run away from the Cross as the other disciples did after Jesus was condemned to die, but stood by her son, at the foot of the cross, to his last agonised breath. She remained devotedly one with the Lord at the darkest hour. She took up the Cross as Jesus had commanded his disciples to do and so is the model disciple for us, Mother of all disciples and so ‘Mother of us, the Church’.


Great even as the Apostle Paul's devotion was to our Lord, much greater was that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is not only the Queen of Apostles, but Queen of Patriarchs and Prophets before them. Although the patriarchs and prophets of old never knew her name, in all God’s eternal plan revealed to them, Mary was the chosen one, known to God alone, and so wordlessly, un-named, she is pre-figured in our Old Testament.


No one was ever more filled with devout love for God than Mary. She is the model of the spiritual life and the union with God that devout souls long for and is the greatest Help of Christians trying to live the spiritual life. She could perfectly say ‘I live, yet not I, but God in me’. This is why Mary is the Vessel of Honour with so many great titles, not all of them, by any means, in this Litany of Loreto.


Some of these titles might paint to the modern eye a rather passive picture of Mary, and leave nothing left of her if she is but a vessel, a house, an ark and a mother, all in these godless times when the spiritual treasures of chastity and virginity have also been de- valued and mocked.


So what about Mary as woman, an individual? Mary said her own Yes to God as a single, but betrothed woman and opened herself to receive the Holy Spirit in her life, and lived by faith as a disciple. She gave herself body and soul to God, remaining Most Chaste, Inviolate and Undefiled for God and that came from her own free will. By her own Most Prudent will, she chose the spiritual life and her freely given yes to God led her to the Cross too, to be with her Son in his suffering. That takes great strength, courage and sacrifice.


We sometimes say of people who have helped us greatly ‘he/she is a tower of strength’ and so the Virgin of virgins is also a Tower of Ivory and Tower of David. Mary is therefore the tower of strength of support to all of us who try to remain faithful to Christ and the Sacred Tradition of the Church in these sacrilegious times in The Church. Mary is Mother Most Powerful and as the Comforter of the afflicted in God’s church, she is the Cause of our Joy and hope in dark times. We heed her prophetic messages of warning in LaSalette, Fatima and Kibeho which seem to be coming to pass and thank her for her continued Good Counsel. We pray that the world will turn to her, who is the Refuge of sinners and Mother of Mercy and do as she says by following Jesus and then doing as He commands us all, 'Go, and from this moment sin no more!' As the Mother of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world, Mary keeps on telling us to save ourselves from ourselves by dying to sin and rising again with her Son. Do as Jesus says! Mary says, and we shall be saved, but as the world burns, violent conflicts and the upheavals of peoples increase; as our children’s bodies and minds are attacked and the tide of faithlessness floods even The Church; as all that is sacred and good is trampled under- foot, few are listening to Mary, who is the Health of the Sick if the Church and the world would just listen to her.


Yet, we must remain faithful even as faithlessness grows. Turn to Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary and say your Rosary every day! We say the Daily Rosary every day at St Thomas More Church, before Mass. Come and join us with Mary in our Lady Chapel! And if you are Catholics already with your own family, but haven’t got round to getting married yet in church, now is the acceptable time! Raise your children with the blessings of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony! This will enthrone Christ as King of your Homes so that Mary, Queen of Peace, will be Queen of your Family. Our Lady's prayers will protect you and support you as you pass on the Sacred Tradition of our faith to your children.


Not only because she was prepared by God to be the perfect vessel of his coming to earth, but also by the strength of her own merits in her perfect discipleship, Mary, Queen Assumed into Heaven, is the sign to us of our resurrection and the eternal life with God we long for. We look to her, as Queen of All Saints, to guide us like The Morning Star to Heaven where she has gone before us and that by following her shining example, Mary will be the Gate of Heaven for all her son’s disciples at the end of our lives when we all must face Almighty God’s judgement on us. Then, we will ask Mary, Mirror of Justice, to pray for us some more, because we sinful humans need her prayers, both now and at the hour of our death.


* Eucharistic Abuse at World Youth Day? Jesus in Plastic Crates. Plus interview with young participant about half-way through.

Quotations from J.H. Newman’s ‘Meditations and Devotions’


God bless,

Fr. Jonathon.

Masses for The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Solemnity and Holyday of Obligation, Tuesday 15th August, at 9.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m.


 

UPCOMING EVENTS

ESCORTED PILGRIMAGE TO KNOCK SHRINE, Ireland, 2nd October 2023. £699.00 per person sharing. Price includes flight, all transfers, 4 nights’ in Knock House Hotel with full board. All entertainment and excursions included. Day trips to Westport, Ballintubber Abbey, Croagh Patrick, Fr. Peyton Centre & National Museum. Single supplement £150.00. Contact Patricia or Natali on 01268 762 278 or 07740 175557 or email knockpilgrimages@gmail.com.

 

PARISH PILGRIMAGE TO LOURDES. Monday 23rd October to Friday 27th October 2023. Please contact the parish office by the 18th if you are interested in joining us.

 

ST THOMAS MORE GOLF DAY to be held Thursday 21st September 2023 at Birchwood Park Golf course, Swanley. Anyone interested in taking part please contact Tony Brooke. 07833707016. There will be the usual charity raffle attached to the day in aid of taking sick / disabled to Lourdes. You will be offered a chance to be involved in the raffle in early September.

 

A DAY WITH MARY

St. Saviour’s, Lewisham on Saturday 19th August from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Bring packed lunch. Tea and coffee provided. St George’s Cathedral, Lambeth Road, Southwark on Saturday 26th August 2023 from 10.15 a.m. to 5. 15 p.m. Bring packed lunch. Tea and coffee provided.

 


Tickets will be on sale from next weekend after mass and we are looking for donations for raffle prizes and cupcakes. Raffle items must be in new condition in original packaging and can be given to Fr. Jonathon, Melissa or ticket sellers. We are also looking for bakers who might be able to donate cupcakes. Please contact the parish office if you are able to help with any of the above or if you are available to lend a hand on the day.

 

PARISH NOTICES

SPUC NOTICES

DEATHS

AUGUST PRAYER

MASSES AND INTENTIONS FOR THE NINETEENTH WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME


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