the Chaplaincy

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Forgive x 7 x 7 — September 16, 2017

Forgive x 7 x 7

For the Second week in a row we have really, really easy readings to relate to our lives!

Where last Sunday was about being merciful and peacemaking in our relationships, this week is specifically about forgiving others. In the GOSPEL Jesus tells a story that reminds us that we are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. This is not just for the good of the offender as un-forgiveness (resentment or anger) is like a poison in our soul – it consumes us and can suck the joy from our lives unless we let it go. This can be really difficult, especially if we have been really hurt or when the offender is not sorry or repentant, but remembering how God has forgiven us can help us to forgive others – we will never be free to enjoy our lives until we do.

Is there anyone that you need God’s help to forgive? Ask for the grace to forgive them as we pray: Our Father…

Act: Is there someone you have fallen out with? Could you try Jesus’ teaching?

Homily Notes (23rd Sun OTa) — September 10, 2017

Homily Notes (23rd Sun OTa)

HOMILY 23rd SUNDAY of Ordinary Time Year A

Good Advice for any Community, School, Church or Family!

Good advice for living in peace.

1st Reading

⁃ Speaking out against wrong.

God tells the prophet Ezekiel;

‘if you see someone doing wrong, and do nothing, they will die for their sins, but I will hold YOU responsible for their death.’

‘But if you warn them, and they continue to do wrong, they will die for their sin, but you will be saved.’

We can often be quick to turn a blind eye to things that we know are wrong; perhaps we’re scared, or we like to avoid conflict, or we don’t want to offend.

Speaking out can be hard.

This week I’ve been spending a lot of time with the new year 7s at JOA, reflecting on the life of St Joan, and discovering how hard standing up and speaking out can be. It cost Joan her life.

More often it can cost us in other ways: in our relationships – family and friendships – or even professional status, look at Jacob Rees-Mogg after he shared his opinion this week.

But, God tells Ezekiel that the consequences of doing nothing are just as bad.


⁃ In the Gospel, Jesus confirms this command, giving ‘step by step’ instructions:

‘if someone does wrong, go and speak to THEM.’

⁃ when we get hurt or offended by what others do, the temptation is to run to someone who we know will side with us to ’VENT’.

⁃ Notice how we very rarely go to people who are likely to give us some balance or a sense of perspective. This type of venting is actually just gossip. It’s like trying to put out a fire with petrol! We share only OUR experience, from our place of pain, which is then validated by somebody on our side – a war has begun.

⁃ If we follow Jesus’ words and go to the offender, there is a chance for conversation, for understanding, for apology, reconciliation and healing.

But HOW do we do this right?

What stops us becoming angry, judgemental, bigots condemning anyone who seems to be at odds with some element of Church teaching.

Or what stops these face-to-face encounters turning into arguments or worse?

The 2nd Reading reminds us: ‘all the commandments… are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself.’

It is loves that reminds us that we too make mistakes

⁃ that we have said and done things that have hurt others.

⁃ Love reminds us that none of us have any moral high ground over anybody else.

The reading tells us: ‘Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour.’

We know when someone is speaking to us out of love. It speaks to our hearts.

⁃ It may challenge us. It might be uncomfortable or even sting a bit, and it may take a while to appreciate!

But we know when we have been loved.

And this is why our prayer for one another and ourselves must be that of today’s psalm:

⁃ ‘O that today you would listen to [God’s] voice! Harden not your hearts’.

But sometimes we don’t have it in us to make that prayer.

We can be too hurt or too angry.

This is when we need God’s grace!

And so Jesus gives us his grace through the Sacraments:

And in a special way in Holy Communion. The Eucharist:

⁃ the fullness of his presence within us,

⁃ working within us, healing us, softening our hearts for our own good and the good of those we love. Helping us become people who are forgiving, patient, at peace.

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A

The Gospel According to Disney’s Moana — July 3, 2017

The Gospel According to Disney’s Moana

Late Sunday night I found out that I would need to come up with a school assembly because the person leading couldn’t make it. So I decided to reflect on something that had occupied my thoughts recently… Disney’s Moana!

I first saw Moana whilst on a plane during the Easter holidays and have owned the DVD since its release a few weeks ago. To be honest, Disney films are something of a guilty pleasure – I look forward to their release more than anything else Hollywood has to offer because I can watch these with my family again and again… and again… and… again!

So what can we learn from Moana when held in the light of the Gospel of 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A? Warning: SPOILERS!!!


Baptism & Calling

When Moana was just a little girl she was drawn to the ocean. But her father, the island chief, had banned his people from sailing beyond the reef a short way out to sea. It was Moana’s grandmother that encouraged Moana’s calling and witnessed her ‘Baptism’ by the ocean. Not only was she ‘wet by the waters’ but she is given a personal calling and mission. This is the same as all who are Baptised. However, like many children baptised today, it is Moana’s grandparent that tries to nurture and encourage this calling, whilst her parent continues to frustrate this calling, banning her from leaving the island and responding to this calling as she grows. How many of our young Catholics are baptised because of the encouragement and faith of grandparents in contrast to the apathy of the child’s parents?


Confirmation & Mission

Moana’s people have a problem – death is creeping onto their island killing the fish and coconuts! As she comes of age, Moana suggests that the solution could be found beyond the reef. This is confirmed when her Grandmother introduces her to the history of her people and Moana’s own history – her calling by the ocean. Moana discovers that her people were voyagers with great freedom and prosperity and they roamed the ocean. However, the heart of their goddess who sustained life was stolen and must be returned. This is why death is spreading across the islands.

Through the encouragement of her grandmother, and the connection to the childhood experience of her ‘baptism’, Moana’s mission becomes clear, that she is to return the heart of the goddess. Through her ‘confirmation’, she discovers that the heart of the goddess was given to her at her ‘baptism’ but she never appreciated it because her father never encouraged her and her grandmother was presumed to be crazy.


The Priesthood & The Church

Because of the mission ahead, Moana seeks the help of long estranged demi-god Maui, only to find that he is a self-absorbed, arrogant, ego-maniac who has turned his back on ungrateful mortals. Maui gave so much to man, even to the point of stealing the heart of the goddess Ta Fiti, just to make his people happy. Maui is now isolated and burnt out! I will leave it for you to compare your own parish priest!

However we eventually see another side of Maui too. With the support of Moana he grows in love and charity, teaching her to navigate for herself and equipping her for lay-leadership of her people on return from the mission. Hopefully this is the model of priesthood you experience in your parish!

Without her heart, the goddess Ta Fiti appears to have become a furious lava monster whom cannot be defeated. And it would appear that this is what the Church looks like for those who look from far away. The Church’s teachings and doctrines are seen by many as oppressive and burdensome and so they steer clear. Often this can be because Fr. Maui has stolen her heart in an attempt to keep the people happy, yet all they needed was the life that flowed from her, not token appeasement. But now, removed from her, she appears as an aggressive monster.


Sacramental Grace

It is Moana herself that realises the truth, that this raging lava monster is actually Ta Fiti, the goddess and source of all life. And so rather than fight the monster, she enters into communion with her, restoring her heart. In an instant, what was one moment seen as an enemy and a threat, is now seeing as the maternal source of life she has always been. For those who, in total sincerity, exist in (or return to) communion with the Church, her life giving nature is revealed. We were made for God, and since our Baptism, when God poured into us his grace for the first time, we have been called to live in communion with him. All the Baptised have all been given God’s heart, with the mission of returning to where it came from, and living forever in the new life that flows from this communion.

When the heart of Ta Fiti is returned, life flows out to all the islands and the death and decay that had plighted Moana’s own island is banished as life returns. And Maui gets his mojo back too as he flies off to minister to those mortals in need of his ordained ministry.

The Grace of the Sacraments not only restores us, but it is for the good of the whole world.


The Gospel This Sunday

A tedious link perhaps, but on Sunday we heard Jesus say: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother… son or daughter to me, is not worthy of me’. These words can challenge us as many of us have grown up putting family first and society has long told us that this is a good a noble thing. Even the 10 Commandments say ‘honour your father and mother’!

Moana’s father is putting the safety of his daughter, his family and all the tribe first when he forbids them to voyage beyond the reef. He genuinely believes that he is doing what’s best for them. This is perhaps true of families today who allow their kids to do football, rugby, dance etc. or whatever else stops them for participating in communion with God in the Eucharist each week. Sometimes it can even be because of the initial rebellion of an older sibling that causes all the others to grow up without the regular nourishment of the Eucharist.

Yet the very best thing we can do for our children is to persevere in encouraging them to fulfil their calling, initiated at baptism. For many it will be left to the crazy, religious grandparents, but in Moana, we see that this is still a major influence.

As communities, as tribes on islands surrounded by contrary cultures, we must remember who we are, our heritage, and the gospel we are now custodians of. We must be good stewards who educate and hand onto the next generation the truth of God and the means by which he still today pours our grace, his life, into our own life.


An insight into what goes through my head whilst watching children’s films! Next up ‘Cars 3’ or ‘Despicable Me 3’?!

Nothing But The Blood of Jesus — July 1, 2017

Nothing But The Blood of Jesus

Before Corpus Christi became the feast of The Body AND Blood of Our Lord, JULY 1st used to be the solemnity of THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF OUR LORD.

When Westminster Cathedral was finished in 1903, it was dedicated to The Precious Blood and was one of the first Catholic Cathedrals built in England after the reformation.

The Blood of Jesus was poured out to save us from our sins, so we remember all those who have poured out their blood for the Catholic faith in this Country. Our Father…

Go: if you haven’t been to Westminster Cathedral in a while, you should go! There have been renovations to some of the side chapels which are particularly lovely.

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