Highlights of the Week

Below are a few interesting news items from this week’s Bulletin.  To download the full version of our latest Bulletin,  please go to our Bulletin pageThank you.

THOUGHT FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

                               Transfigured by Love – Light in our Darkness

On the stillness of the mountain, in the solitude of God, there is community – the community of the disciples overwhelmed by the experience of Love’s glory; the community of the Prophets, Moses, Elijah and Jesus talking of Love’s Victory over Law that will be the Cross that lies ahead; and the Community above all Communities – the Father who speaks, the Son who hears and witnesses and the Spirit who overshadows with empowering stillness.
Three interlocking communities, all with the same aim and objective: that Love should transfigure the world. Into the silence the Word of Love is spoken (‘my beloved son’); into the darkness of the cloud light shines forth with Love’s blazing brightness; into the loneliness of the mountainside, loving community is celebrated and glimpsed – and love breaks forever loneliness. Only Love truly transfigures, only Love will heal the world that is broken, divided, unjust and at war. Do we have the courage to love another as He loves us. Real community will bring miracles of Transfiguration to our cold, dark, loveless world!

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN HOSPITAL:     Can I remind everyone that when a Catholic goes into hospital, the patient or their family MUST request a visit from the Catholic Chaplain – data protection and confidentiality rules in hospitals prohibit the passing on of information to chaplaincies otherwise. The Chaplain will not know of your presence in hospital and cannot visit a patient without the patient’s prior request and permission.

SCRIPTURE SHARING GROUP I am delighted that our Scripture Sharing Group has been re-launched (on-line via Zoom) and I want to encourage many more people to take part in this group , especially during Lent, so that we can all deepen our love for and understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. Each week the group shares reflections, questions, insights on the Scripture Readings used at Mass on the following Sunday. It would be ideal for all Lay Readers and Lay Ministers of the Eucharist, as well as Children’s Liturgy leaders. It is an excellent way of supporting one another and sharing together and deepening our faith, rooted in the Bible. This week it will be on Thursday at 8.00pm, exploring the Mass Readings for the Second Sunday of Lent. If you wish to take part please John Flannery (email: j.flannery@btinternet.com) or Richard (email: stnicks.bristol@blueyonder.co.uk)  for the Zoom link.

LENTEN OPPORTUNTIES [1] The Global Catholic Movement invites you to “Global Healing.”
In 2015, Pope Francis published his ground-breaking letter on the environment Laudato Si’. Since then, millions of people worldwide have joined the global movement to address the environmental crisis our world is facing. This Lent, we are inviting YOU to join us for a series of reflective evenings with inspiring speakers, prayer and discussion, using the film-based resource “Global Healing”. These engaging documentaries will inform and challenge people to respond to Pope Francis’ call to Care for Our Common Home. Suitable for all who are concerned about what is happening to our world and who want to take action. Why not invite a friend to find out more about what we can all do to help? When? Six Thursdays from 18th February – 25th March 2021, 7.30pm – 8.30pm How to join? To register please click HERE or email jane@catholicclimatemovement.global Hosted by GCCM Laudato Si’ Animators in the UK.  Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience…Truly, much can be done!” (Laudato Si’, 217, 180)
[2] Richard is offering a Lenten Series of Talks on the Parish Face Book Page – please see weekly bulletin for day and time.[3] The Diocesan Newsletter carries a weekly video reflection on the theme ‘Dare to Dream’ – a quote from Pope Francis – please see the Diocesan Newsletter (email: pressandmedia@cliftondiocese.com)

TALKING AND LISTENING GROUP – the group runs every Tuesday from 2pm to 3.30pm and offers a safe place for people to come and talk about the issues which are effecting them and listen to others. The group supports those with low mood, lack of self-esteem and anxiety as well as those struggling with, for example, bereavement, isolation, guilt, serious illness and relationship issues. One to one sessions over the phone or social media are available. Confidentiality is assured. For more information contact Robert on 07767 706 163 or robertvh@hotmail.co.uk. Or, just come along.

FORCED ABORTION FOR UYGHUR MUSLIM WOMEN IN CHINA – PROTEST!
Ask your MP to support an amendment to help stop forced abortion in Xinjiang, China
There is extensive evidence that many women in the Uyghur Muslim community in Xinjiang, China are being subjected to forced abortions. Lord Alton is currently championing an amendment to the Trade Bill which would give British courts a role in determining whether a country is committing genocide. This would help with putting international pressure on the Chinese Communist Party to stop the practice of forcing abortions on the Uyghur Muslim community along with the wider human rights abuses that evidence shows is being perpetuated against this community.If you would like to email your MP asking them to support the amendment, you can do this easily using a tool which has been set up on the Genocide Response campaign website which can be accessed by visiting the link below:
https://genocideresponse.org/

SACRAMENTAL PROGRAMMES – CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
[1] First Eucharist and First Reconciliation Programmes: We plan to begin the Preparation courses for First Eucharist and First Reconciliation immediately after Easter, by which time hopefully our children can gather safely in the Assisi Centre and Church. We will have first meeting with parents for each programme  before Easter (possibly on Zoom) to discuss the Programmes. Application forms will be issued after the school half-term break. Please contact Richard or Mary as soon as possible if you want your child prepared for either Sacrament (minimum age for First Eucharist – 7 years by First Eucharist Sunday; for First Reconciliation – one year after First Eucharist)
[2] Young Peoples Journey of Faith (16-19+), preparing for Baptism and/or Confirmation: we have made a good start with this programme on Zoom last Friday and will continue to meet on Zoom each Friday at 5.00pm. If there are other young people in this age group (whether or not they have been confirmed) who would like to join in, you will be very welcome – let Richard have your email address

ADULT JOURNEY OF FAITH GROUP     In November we began our 2020/2021 Journey of faith group, using Zoom. We are working with some who had originally contacted St Mary-on-the-Quay who could no longer support such a group, so unusually we have not met most of our JoF group at church. But I am glad to report that the group is now progressing well and it numbers are growing. Meeting on Tuesdays 4.30-5.45pm, currently we have about ten people in the group, including two parishioners who wish to deepen their understanding of the Faith through participating in the ‘course’. It is led by Richard, Mary and Margaret, is as interactive as possible and thoroughly Bible based. If anyone wishes to join us, let Richard have your email address so we can send a Zoom ‘invitation’.

PREPARING FOR LENT DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC In many ways it has felt like one long Lent since Ash-Wednesday 2020 – we have been deprived of so much – social contact, parties, shopping, holidays, often attending Mass. We have needed to adjust to all sorts of new measures and our world has become small. It has been a desert or wilderness time for our whole world. Many have had no work and others (like Health workers and carers and other key workers) have been overworked! Perhaps this Lent is a call to reflect upon the meaning of this past year, to embrace lovingly and caringly the deprivations of the past 12 months and the future unspecified months. Lent is a call to serve the common good of our nation and all nations; to care for our Common Home, the Earth and all its people and creatures. This Lent we may have little to give up as so much has been taken away – but perhaps we have many things to do positively to build a new kind of (and ‘kinder’) world. 

WHY LENT? We enter this privileged time of personal and community renewal which we call Lent. We join with Christ Jesus’ 40 Days in the desert to journey with Him through the desert of silence and prayer, of deprivation and hunger, of thirst and yearning. Why? To grow to become more like Jesus in generosity of spirit, openness of heart, deeper communion with God, a readiness to give of ourselves to the Mission of the Gospel. These 40 Days express our communion with all catechumens of the Church journeying to the great moment of Baptism (or reception into Full Communion with the Church); these 40 Days are our journey to the renewal of our Baptism at Easter when we say again our ‘YES’ to being plunged into the Mystery of Christ and become truly Christ People, filled with His Spirit and knowing ourselves to be ‘Beloved of the Father’. Let us embrace these most precious days of renewal.

THE TRUE FAST – ACCORDING TO POPE FRANCIS
“Fast from hurting words and say kind words. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude. Fast from anger and be filled with patience. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope. Fast from worries and trust in God. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity. Fast from pressures and be prayerful. Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others. Fast from grudges and be reconciled. Fast from words and be silent – so you can listen.”

NEEDS OF OUR FOODBANK We are urgently appealing for the following food for our food bank: Tins of Tuna, Sardines and Mackerel, Tinned Vegetables, Tinned Meat Tinned Fruit and Rice Pudding, Pasta Sauces – We also always need more UHT milk. Please drop them off at the Parish Office between 9am to 1.30pm or by arrangement at the office or presbytery. Many thanks for your invaluable support. Poverty levels are increasing dramatically and we must respond in the name and love of Christ. We are also having to store some supplies in the church and the parish hall. The Church is for the ‘breaking of bread’ and not always at the altar!

POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES It is clear that so many are struggling with physical and emotional exhaustion because of the Lockdown and especially serving the sick and vulnerable during this Public Health Crisis. Enforced isolation has worsened the mental health of so many people. How can we respond as a Healing community to this situation? how can we develop our parish as ‘God’s Field Hospital’, creating safe spaces for people to recover their inner well-being and self-confidence? Can our parish’s mental health workers advise?

CLIFTON DIOCESAN NEWSLETTER   Sign-up for this useful round-up of news, views, events and other information from around our diocese.  It is easy to do, just go to our website www.cliftondiocese.com, click on the newsletter icon and register your email address.

WHAT IS THE COVENANT WITH THE POOR?    In preparation for the great Millenium of year 2000 the Bishops of England and Wales asked every parish to draw up and make a ‘Covenant with the Poor’. As part of our parish’s Covenant we pledged to pray regularly for Justice & Peace, to serve the homeless and poor who come in increasing numbers to  our extensive Food Bank and the Wild Goose Café and to encourage parishioners to volunteer time and energy to work in the Food Bank and the Wild Goose Café; and also to give non-perishable food (especially rice, pasta, tinned fruit and tomatoes, tinned fish and meat etc) and/or money (in special envelopes) to be used for the poor. This food and money goes to support our ministry among the poor of our area. During Lockdown this as greatly expanded and very many people inn Bristol are supporting us, in addition to our parishioners. We also founded and developed our Borderlands Charity (‘from exclusion to belonging’) to serve our asylum & refugee community that has remained serving throughout the periods of Lockdown. In normal times, the Offertory Procession at Mass regularly sees gifts to be shared with the poor and vulnerable, carried to the Altar (restoring the ancient meaning of the Offertory Procession). So the Covenant with the Poor that we renew solemnly at each Patronal Feast of St Nicholas of Tolentino (early September) has continued to grow and develop and as such has shaped the life, mission and witness of our parish community. The development of the ministry of the Parish Office has enabled us to develop our ‘Option for the Poor’ in obedience to the Gospel Let us praise God for such rich grace and love poured out upon our community, and though our community to many in their need.

LOVE THE CHRIST OF THE POOR – WORDS OF ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM   “Would you honour the Body of Christ? Do not despise His nakedness; do not honour him here in church clothed in silk vestments and then pass him by unclothed and frozen outside. Remember that He who said ‘This is my Body’ also said ‘You saw me hungry and gave me no food’. I am insisting that nothing can take the place of care for the poor. What use is it to adorn the altar with gold cloths and deny Christ a coat for his back? He would be outraged!”

CONFIRMATION AND THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT  Our God, Abba our loving Father, loves to pour Divine Gifts upon us whom He loves.  He poured the Holy Spirit into our hearts at our conception so that we could be human – made in the Divine Image and Likeness. In Baptism He pours the Spirit again so that we can experience Him as the love that fulfils our lives and draws us into profound intimacy with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the  The Sacrament of Confirmation, the final step in ‘Initiation’ into the Body of Christ, God pours His Spirit into our being to gift us for Mission and Ministry, gifts us so that we can be gift to the Church and to the world. Holy Spirit comes to empower the Christian for ministry in the Body of Christ and mission to the world in the name of Christ. It is an essential part of our growing into Christ that we not only experience His love but become His Love for others. So the Holy Spirit comes with charisms and gifts to equip us as co-workers with Jesus Christ in the immense task of building up God’s Church, proclaiming the Gospel, the Good News, bringing healing and hope to the broken and oppressed, and ultimately ‘renewing the face of the earth’!

POPE FRANCIS ON NUCLER WEAPONS Pope Francis stated the following last November: ‘Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession…  genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian effects of any employment of nuclear devices and the risk of accidental detonation as a result of any kind of error, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned. They exist in the service of a mentality of fear.’

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE GRATEFUL TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY MADE STANDING ORDERS IN FAVOUR OF THE PARISH – WE ARE NOT ABLE YET TO NOTIFY YOU IN OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER OF THE SUM GIVEN AS OFFERTORY BUT WILL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Please find ways of continuing to support our parish with your offerings (perhaps by making a Standing Order, GiftAided if possible – details from Robert at the Parish Office) – we are supporting so many people as those unemployment are increasing in at this time. THANK TO ALL WHO HAVE BEEN SUPPORTING OUR FOOD BANK WITH DONATIONS OF FOOD OR MONEY.

CALL TO ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The teenager Greta Thunberg said: “It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make change possible.”
David Attenborough said “ We need to fall in love again with the earth”
Pope Francis said “ God of Love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth” and “teach us to care for our common home.”
Our children and young people took to the streets of Bristol to demonstrate and challenge our generation to not just speak, BUT ALSO TO ACT – DECISIVELY – NOW!

ARE YOU STRUGGLING AFTER AN ABORTION EXPERIENCE?  Do you know where to turn – who could help you? I hope as a parish community we are open and caring and healing in a way that you could entrust your pain to us. But also (and very importantly) there is an organisation that could help you – British Victims of Abortion. Call them on their helpline 0845-603-8501 between 7pm and 10pm seven evenings a week.