Christmas Day Homily – Fr David

Christmas 2016

I begin my homily by wishing you all a very blessed, holy and joyful Christmas. As I do so, I draw our attention to the messages of the angels, which begin with the words “Do not be afraid. Listen…”

I am conscious that many who have been caught up in the plans of God have been greeted with exactly those same words….

Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife – from the gospel for the Vigil

The Shepherds were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people – from the Gospel for midnight mass.

“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.”

To Abraham in the book of Genesis –– “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward”

Through Moses to the newly freed people of Israel – “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today

Pope St John Paul II began his pontificate with words that rang throughout the Church – “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power.”

And I, a priest from a small parish in the middle of Surrey urge you too, to not be afraid.

I say this as, even on this most wonderful day, many of us are aware of seemingly overwhelming problems, challenges, and disunity among humanity. Fear is all around us. A headline in a November edition of the Metro ran “Actually, 2017 will probably be even worse than 2016.” The Daily Mail constantly preys on the fears many have – some legitimately and many not – and offers up bogus figures for hate and loathing – foreigners, immigrants, poor people, celebrities, and a whole lot more. Donald Trump offers another figure of divisiveness – to some a hero who will drain the swamp and to others a person bordering on madness. When there is fear around its natural to blame someone.

But it would appear that God’s most important message to us could be to ask us not to be afraid, not to give up, not to turn away, not to turn back but to face up to things as they are and to commit ourselves totally to doing things HIS way.

To be sure there are many things to worry about – plenty of things that should concern us. A whole host of things that demand out attention. As Christians we sometimes feel as though we are in a minority and it is tempting to run with the pack, with the “common sense” as it might be. And we may have lost confidence in our own abilities to understand any of it and perhaps that is how most of us feel.

Yet, we cannot escape that message – “Do not be afraid.”

It’s strange when we think of it that our biggest problems are answered with a very unusual gesture. The birth of a small child. In a small town. In a small country. To a couple on the very edge of society.

The message of the Gospel is a simple one but a difficult one for us to take on board. To accept.

It is quite simply that human ways of problem solving, of building society, of addressing important life changing issues, are all doomed to failure because human beings are trapped in a bankrupt way of doing things and of understanding things. Our solutions to world problems, by themselves, are merely sticking plasters on huge wounds and many of those wounds are self-inflicted wounds. They are caused by our ignorance, our violence, our pride and our greed. Selfishness adds another layer to this particular cake, as does hatred and tribalism. Like a game of chess, we have only so many pieces to move around and very little understanding of the consequences of various moves.

What we need is a new way of doing things; of seeing things and understanding things. St Paul, meditating on the gifts that we need reflects, “without love I am nothing.” And that is the answer that God gives to all our longings for peace and justice and for the ending of our fears. St John writing in his first letter puts it this way “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, …. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

The little baby child is God’s gift of love. It is a gift of love from pure love. Love for us – for you and me – despite me often descending into un-loveliness. It is a gift of power because “love conquers all” to quote Virgil and Chaucer. It is a gift that flies in the face of fear and all those demonic, divisive, forces that fear unleashes. The Christ child is a figure of unity that is for all peoples and all times.

This small vulnerable gift of love chose to remain small and vulnerable throughout his short life. This small baby whose birth we celebrate today made a choice that at all times and in all places and in all ways He would not be diverted from love and would demonstrate how this alone overcomes fear. In the face of love fear has no answer. Love is the truth about God – this is the genius of Christianity. Whatever Love is – that God is too. Whatever is of God cannot but be of love.

We will find that the more we are committed to love and to hope the greater will be our understanding of this great feast. If it remains only “something for the children” it will instantly lose its power to challenge and change. If we allow its mystery to pervade our lives it will reward us with a new set of challenges – as Thomas Merton wrote “The gift of love is the gift of the power and the capacity to love, and therefore, to give love with full effect is also to receive it. So love can only be kept by being given away, and it can only be given perfectly when it is also received.”

Jesus is the perfect gift of the Father’s love and how we receive it will reflect how ready we are to love in return and to be loved.

 

THANK YOU AND THE STORY SO FAR – a note from Dcn Roy

Firstly, I would like to thank you all very much for your kind wishes over Christmas and for the many tokens of friendship given me. You have all been so kind. It has been so good to be able to spend some of my Christmas break from Seminary with you doing my “old job” assisting Fr David.

As you know, it was on 4th January 2016 that I commenced my further studies at Wonersh for the priesthood on a part time basis with my own room there. (I was there before between 1999 – 2002 for the Diaconate) By this March I had studied two years Canon Law and Faculties and took the exams.

In September I commenced full time studies living in the Seminary on a permanent basis. This time studying Moral Theology plus several other Theologies which I have elected to do and am enjoying it immensely. Living so closely alongside many different people makes for special relationships and I have found this a fascinating experience and very rewarding. The professors (lecturers/formators) are excellent and the lectures of a high standard; I am so fortunate to be in such a place.

The whole process has helped me discern my way forward in the Lord’s service much more clearly, and I now cannot wait to get “back in the vineyard”. For this particular labourer I feel it’s even later than the eleventh hour, more like a quarter to midnight!

I expect the bishop to soon allow me to announce the place and time of my ordination. In the meantime please keep me in your prayers as I do you each day, and I very much look forward to seeing you all at my priestly ordination (God willing), when that great day comes.

God bless you all.  Deacon Roy.  St John’s Seminary Wonersh.

 

Newsletter for January 1st 2017 – Mary Mother of God

Times of Mass and Devotions

 Mary Mother of God 

Sat 31st Cranleigh 6.00pm Vigil Mass People of the Parish
Sun 1st Bramley

Cranleigh

9.00am

11.00am

Parish Mass

Parish Mass

Fr Tony’s Ints

Fr Tony’s Ints

Wed 4th Cranleigh 7.30pm Mass – St Elizabeth
Thurs 5th Bramley 10.00am Mass
Fri 6th Cranleigh 10.00am School Mass for Epiphany
Epiphany of the Lord 
Sat 7th Cranleigh

Cranleigh

1.15pm

6.00pm

Baptism of Tracy Orioha

Vigil Mass

Sun 8th Bramley

Cranleigh

Bramley

9.00am

11.00am

4.00pm

Parish Mass

Parish Mass & Baptism

Vespers for Epiphany

 

 

The Divine Office – 20 minutes before weekday Masses    Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – 1 hour before weekday masses

Confessions – Saturday after mass and 5pm, Wednesday at 7pm, Thursday at 10.30am or by appointment at any time

Parish Prayer Group – Thursdays at 8pm – see website or notice board for details
Mothers Prayers – Thursdays during term-time at 2.30pm in JCROM Lady Chapel

We welcome Father Tony Bridson at all Masses next weekend. Fr David will be back from a break on Wednesday morning next week. Next Sunday we look forward to the baptisms of Tracy Orioha and Maddilyn Ludlow. Please pray for them.

 

Today’s Solemnity

We are all too old to remember but New Years Day was, at one time, not on the first of January but on the 25th March – the Feast of the Annunciation (Lady Day) although it was Julius Caesar who first set January the 1st as New Year’s Day – the Day when the Consuls of the Roman Senate took their seats. At one time Christmas Day marked the beginning of New Year as did March the 1st in some places. The Gregorian reforms of 1582 set January 1st as New Years day and also while they were at it they corrected the calendar that was misaligned with the sun by deleting ten days. This is why we pay our taxes on the 4th April as the City felt that ten days had been “stolen” from them and refused to pay tax until the 10 days had been put back in when we adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752. The 1969 revision of the liturgical calendar replaced the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus with the Mary, Mother of God and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I just wanted to comment on the Christmas celebrations, which were, I think, very lovely indeed. So many people helped to make them memorable and joyful even in the midst of the current feeling of doubt and uncertainty in the world. I really felt that the readings and the music contributed to a message of hope for us – that God knows our needs and fears and Jesus is his answer – and remains so.

I have been very touched by the many messages of support and thanksgiving and the many kind gifts, both monetary and in the form of food and drink. You have been most generous to Helen and me and we am very grateful. Looking forward to the new year I would just like to alert you to some programmes that will help us all grow deeper in faith and in the understanding of our catholic faith. I will be looking for participants and also people to help run them. They will be a lot of fun but also, most importantly, help us deepen our understanding of Jesus’ role in our lives and in the Church. The FHC programme continues as does the Confirmation programme. My thanks to the volunteers that give so much of their time and energies to both of those.

With my love

Fr David

Newsletter for December 24/25th 2016

Times of Mass and Devotions

Date Church Time Service Intentions

The Nativity of the Lord 

Sat 24th Cranleigh

Bramley

6.00pm

11.30pm

First Mass of Christmas

Midnight Mass of Christmas

People of the Parish
Sun 25th Bramley

Cranleigh

9.00am

11.00am

Mass at Cockcrow

Mass of Christmas Day

Tues 27th Bramley 9.00am Mass – St John
Wed 28th Cranleigh 9.00am Mass – The Holy Innocents Leo Kestell (RIP)

 Mary Mother of God

Sat 31st Cranleigh 6.00pm Vigil Mass

Sun 1st Bramley

Cranleigh

9.00am

11.00am

Parish Mass

Parish Mass

The Divine Office – 20 minutes before weekday Masses     Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – 1 hour before weekday masses
Confessions – Saturday after mass and 5pm, Wednesday at 7pm,  Thursday at 10.30am or by appointment at any time
Parish Prayer Group – Thursdays at 8pm – see website or notice board for details
Mothers Prayers – Thursdays during term-time at 2.30pm in JCROM Lady Chapel

Dear Brothers and Sisters
Once again it is my joyful privilege to be able to wish you all a Merry and Holy Christmas.  This year Christmas day coincides with a Sunday and so I’m especially grateful to have a “normal” weekend rather than back-to-back services for four days solid!  But the only thing I dislike about that is about getting tired because, in reality, this is a season of great joy.

If we can just look beneath the pressure to be “enjoying” it in the way that Lord Sugar would like most – in other words through buying and consuming and instead look at what it actually is – a celebration of a special and unique gift to us – God-with-us – then we will find ourselves happy and content, I’m sure.

Christmas is, for me at any rate, the assurance that God, as almighty and transcendent as He is, is consumed, if that is the correct word, with being near to us – the people He most loves.  But not only near to us but with us as we are.

I’m used to people, out of a desire to honour me when I visit them, tidying up and getting the best crockery out and the finest cakes when what I really want to see is them.  This seems to me to be what God is telling us too.  I want to be with you as you are – and so he did, and so he does.

Make room in your hearts for Christ this Christmas and think of that special and precious gift which is God himself and then go and be the best person you can be to your families, friends and relations.  You don’t have to spend anything except time, really.

With assurances of prayer for you all at this Holy time.  May God bless you and your families.

With my love.  Fr David

 

Pope Francis holds a statue of baby Jesus as he celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Christmas Crib collection is donated to the Friends of the Holy Land at the Bishop’s request.  Please give generously.  See posters and cards around the Church.

Please note the Parish Office will be closed from Friday 23rd December and will reopen on Wednesday 4th January 2017.

PRAYER GROUP – Informal and moved by the Spirit – Meet every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month 9.15am-10.30am in Cranleigh Parish room.  All welcome.

New Diocesan directories are available and cost £5.00.  Contact the Parish Office for your copy.

Thank you from CAFOD for your generous support this Harvest Fast Day.  The Parish sent £284.00 in ongoing support.
Unfortunately, the Diary suppliers are unable to supply the 2017  diaries due to the lack of advertising support in our local are.  They hope to raise enough to provide 2018 diaries.  We will keep you posted about any changes for next year.  Sorry

Newsletter for 4th Sunday of Advent 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters
The Collect for today at Mass you will recognise as the same prayer we use when, together, we say the Angelus before, or after, mass. In this prayer the mystery of the Incarnation is balanced with the mystery of Easter. It is saying, in a prayerful way that the wonder of the incarnation – or as the Gospel says today – of ‘God-with-us,’ only finds its complete fulfilment and sense if the God who is ‘with us’ also experiences the profound injustices and cruelty of our human lives and does not flinch, in so doing, from remaining God-with-us. It is one thing to talk of the vulnerability of God becoming a little child in difficult circumstances and quite another to keep talking of the same God unflinchingly remaining with us as His love is rejected and crushed by human wickedness. So we see that God’s incarnation in Jesus is the fullness of his love. It moves us through the whole gamut of human experience and emotion and proves to us that the Christ is committed to us. We can trust him not to waiver when the going gets tough and the bullets start to fly and all around crumbles.
It is a kind of tradition to remember those who are having, or are about to have, a baby and to recognise God’s closeness to this mystery of new human life. The Collect today reminds us that Jesus is not just there in the warmth of milky babies but also in Aleppo, or wherever human beings are experiencing pain and suffering.
Strangely, this may not be the ‘God with us’ that we would sometimes desire. We would often be far more impressed with a super-hero and in some personal sense, I suppose, that would seem to be more effective in my own tragedies and difficulties but love is a mysterious force that is the more effective the more it is true to itself. In the Constitution on Divine Revelation from the Second Vatican Council it is described thus “(God) sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all men, to dwell among men and to tell them about the inner life of God. That’s what God shows at Christmas – his inner life of love.
With my love.

Fr David

There will be a second collection THIS WEEKEND for the local charity Number Five which is Guildford’s night shelter for homeless men and women. Last year the Parish raised a generous donation of £945.00 that was greatly appreciated.
All of the monies raised goes straight to residents to receive vouchers for both the local Odeon cinema to see a film of their choice and also a shopping centre voucher to spend on whatever they wish. It also goes towards buying everyone a takeaway of their choice as a treat on New Year’s Eve. The remaining money is kept for funds throughout the year that allows for any emergency monies that are needed for residents over the next twelve months.

The Christmas Crib collection will support the Friends of the Holy Land at the Bishop’s request. The Christian people of the Holy Land have been under increasing economic and political pressure in the past seventy-five years, and during that time the Christian population there has fallen steadily. Friends of the Holy Land (FHL) was established in 2009 to help and encourage Christians to flourish in the land of their birth, to ensure a secure presence where Christianity began. objectives are raising awareness of the challenges facing the Christians of the Holy Land, encouraging prayers for their intentions, generating and channelling financial resources to give them a sustainable future and encouraging visits to the Holy Land to meet local Christians.
Please give generously. See posters and cards around the Church.

Please note the Parish Office will be closed from Friday 23rd December and will reopen on Wednesday 4th January 2017.

The 300 club applications are coming in and there is still time to pop your entry into the Parish Office.

Congratulations to the Christmas winners who are D Rescorla, K Cole and M Searle.

The Parish Raffle will be drawn in Cranleigh after Mass on 18th December
This Sunday after 11am Mass please join your fellow parishioners in the Cranleigh Parish Meeting Room for a Christmas coffee. The Parish Raffle prizes will be drawn and Matthew Emms will be selling his “pots of joy” filled with bulbs for early spring. Profits will go to the church room fund. They make great Christmas party presents. £12.50 each, two for £25, 3 for £37.50. All made with love by the Emms girls. Thank you.

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The Christmas Clean is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 17 December, after the 10.00am Mass (from around 10.30am onwards). So do join us if you can!

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This year we are holding Midnight Mass at St Thomas More for a change. The usual attendance will fit in there very nicely and make for a very atmospheric service. The 6pm Cranleigh Mass is the most popular and is intended for families with young children and those who cannot attend Mass on Christmas Day. Jesus Christ the Redeemer of Mankind cannot seat more than 280 people by law and it would be a shame to have to turn people away. We have tried a ticket system before which was not popular and have suggested early arrival and this year we leave it to your common sense. Please consider coming to Midnight Mass or join family and friends on Christmas Day.

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Following guidance from Bishop Richard the governors of St Cuthbert Mayne Catholic primary school propose to make changes to the Admission Policy and Supplementary Information Form for 2018-2019. These changes can be viewed on the school website www.stcuthbertmayne.co.uk.
The proposed changes do not affect Admissions for 2017 -2018.

PRAYER GROUP – Informal and moved by the Spirit – Meet every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month 9.15am-10.30am in Cranleigh Parish room. All welcome.
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CAROL SERVICE St Thomas More, Bramley, on Sunday 18th December at 6.30pm. Everyone welcome. Bring all your friends. Bring your children to sing: Away in a Manger. Mulled Wine and mince pies in the Parish Room afterwards.

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Bidding Prayers Rota Sunday Prayers of the Faithful.
We currently have a small team of people who compose the Bidding Prayers, or Intercessions, for Sunday Mass. This means that they are not just left to the clergy to compose but reflect what the people wish to pray for at various times. Another name for the prayers at that point in the Mass is “The Prayer of the Faithful” as they are the prayers of us all.
If you would like to join the team, (it amounts to composing them every seven weeks or so and guidance will be given) do please let Tracy know in the Parish Office soon.

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POKOT NEWS
I mentioned last week that I would report again when Fr Sean McGovern told me how he would use the £2,000 included for him in the recent transfer of £5,000 to Fr David Conway at Barpello Mission. Here is Fr Sean’s report.
“Food Relief. It is always a priority here. You will remember that one of your Year of Mercy projects was £2,500 – Ksh 322,500- for use where I saw the greatest need. The repair of our water project was paid from that and the balance of Ksh 105,951 was transferred to Food Relief. That project is again in need of funds So I will put £1,000 into it.
School Fees and Education. This project is of the greatest importance here. Unlike in the rest of Kenya, and indeed the rest of Pokot, education in this most remote area is at a very low state.
Few enough children are allowed to go to school and far too often the teachers don’t come either. Those children that do come are mostly there for the Pound a Week Group’s breakfast. I have no problem with that as they get a bit of education with the sweet porridge and camel milk! But education here comes in the list of priorities after herding goats and camels and fetching water and fire wood and other chores for the family. Again I can’t argue against that. Only yesterday the chief was here and said to me “Next year I will arrest anyone who refuses to send their children to school “! He means well. But that won’t work and he probably won’t do it anyway. Watch this space.”
Fr Sean also uses his Education Project to help students of poor families whom he has been in contact with. As funds allow, he will make a contribution to their school or university fees, expecting the family to help as well and take an active interest in their children’s education. Recently he also used the Project to make a donation to a fellow Holy Ghost father who was raising funds to build a girl’s dormitory at his Tangulbie Mission school in Pokot.

For more information about the Pound a Week Group’s support for the Pokot missions, please contact me on 01483-893379 or at emcgivern@btinternet.com Eugene McGivern
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TEENAGE RETREAT FOR YEARS 7-9 – INSPIRE @ WORTH ABBEY – FEBRUARY 10-12TH
This February there will be another retreat at Worth Abbey for young people in school years 7-9. INSPIRE is part of the youth retreat programme at The Open Cloister, which has been running successfully for a number of years. The retreats are run by an experienced team, with the support of the monastic community at Worth, and the Diocese. They give young people a brilliant chance to meet other young Catholics and to explore their faith in the beautiful atmosphere of Worth Abbey. There are also games, sports, social activities and much more. The weekend costs £84, but bursaries are available. For more information, or to book, Email toc@worthabbey.net – bookings close February 3rd, or when the retreat is full. If you have any questions, you are also free to contact the Diocesan Youth Officer, Jack Regan – Jack.Regan@dabnet.org

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