MESSAGE FROM THE PARISH PRIEST
My Dear People,
Holy Week is on us once more. The Holy Images of our Lord and Our Lady and the saints are covered in purple. This is the week in which our Saviour suffered, died and rose again to live forever. What wonderful mysteries are enacted this week for our sake and our salvation.
Today the First Communion children will lead the Palm Procession at the main Mass. They will sing Hosannas to the Son of David. Around their necks they will be wearing the crucifixes. They will be tied around their little necks with a red ribbon - symbol of our Blessed Lord shedding his blood for love of them and us and the cost of His life in order to give us himself in the Holy Communion at Mass.
Our Lord knew his hour was coming quickly and was preparing for this week in great detail. Many of the things he did were to fulfil the predictions of the great Prophets concerning the Redeemer who was promised since Adam. The coming into Jerusalem, the Holy City was full of significance. This was the city of David and the place of the Holy of Holies and our Lord in his own body would replace all those things for His Reality. He wept over the Holy City just beforehand for its rejection of him. "I WANTED TO GATHER YOU AS A MOTHER HEN GATHERS ITS CHICKS UNDER HER WING, AND YOU WOULD NOT". Our Lord spoke these words from a hill overlooking the Holy City. If you ever go the Holy Land you can stand in that church on that spot called "The Lord's Tears" and see the city of Jerusalem from behind the high altar through purple windows shaped like tear drops.
This day was one of triumph and welcome from the little people. Our Lord knew what would happen that week. He had already cottoned on to Judas the thief who would sell him for 30 silver pieces. He had made the arrangements for the Upper Room to be hired for the Passover meal which he had "longed to share with you before I die". He even told the Apostles that they were to follow a guy carry a pitcher of water and he would be the owner of the Upper room. Jesus made these arrangements himself to prepare for the Last Supper - the First Mass - the great example of the Washing of the Feet by God made Man. Every detail is pre-known by Jesus. Even telling Judas to go and do his business before Jesus gave the Apostles their First Holy Communion - "This is my body - broken for you - take and eat". How many of our fellow Catholics refuse that commandment today?
On Maundy Thursday night is the Birthday of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Ordination of the first Priest - Bishops by our Lord. The Bishop will have us priests in the cathedral that to renew our priestly promises and to receive the new Oils we will use in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (Chrism) and the Oil of the Anointing of the sick and infirm. That evening we follow Jesus to the Garden and keep watch before his Presence in the Altar of Repose. The stripped altar reminds us of our Lord's Body - stripped.
Good Friday at 3pm we will lovingly and in great detail recall his suffering for our Redemption. We will venerate the Crucifix and each of us comes to kiss it and then receive the Master in Holy Communion - fasting and abstaining from meat that day.
On Friday night and Saturday the church remains bare - no Mass is offered in the whole world in the Roman Calendar. We await the Resurrection but remember the Apostles had forgotten our Lord's promise of "after three days will rise again". They remained frightened and defeated - all their hope dashed. At first light on the third day the women came to the tomb to wash our Lord's sacred body properly and to load it is spices of burial but behold the stone was gone and the tomb empty and the rest is history - our History. Holy Church is in a continuous line of faith from that moment when the angels appeared like two young men dressed in white saying "Why do you seek among the dead he who is alive? He is risen and has gone before you..."
My dear people this is the hope laid up in our hearts this Holy Week and Easter. He is the Tremendous Lover - the Great Redeemer - the Victor of the Human Race and its Head. Nothing can be the same again. Our Holy Father Pope Francis said as much at his Big Mass in St Peter's Piazza at his Inauguration. Jesus is the one he represents and the one he serves. The Pope said that in some ways therefore we are all called to this in our different ways.
Don't forget to take an Easter Liturgy and Message card with all the times of the Triduum printed so you will know. Take a few and give them to others who might not come to Mass and be Apostolic.
Take courage and have no fear - for he is with us until the End Time.
God Bless, and don't forget to go to Confession.
Father Tom Connolly
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Bidding Prayers for Palm Sunday
Priest: This is the Day when our Lord entered in triumph into the Holy City. Let us walk with him now on the way of the Cross - asking the Father for all our needs in His Name.
For the Universal Church on this Passion Sunday - that our joyful celebration of our Lord's entry into Jerusalem as the Messiah may encourage all who follow His way and the way of all Christians. Lord in your mercy.
For all who walk the way of the cross, and especially the persecuted Church in China and Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine and Syria. And we commend all God’s people who stand up against the spirit of the world with its anti life and anti child mentality and its atheistic secularism. Lord in your mercy.
For our First Communion children and their families who play a special part in today’s celebration - that their young hearts may receive with great Joy, Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament of the altar. Lord in your mercy.
We pray for all who are called to suffer in the way of the Cross that they may have the confidence to trust in Christ in the midst of illness and disability: Christine Booth, Maureen Quinlan, Frances Maher, John Lawson, Ann Brady, Basram Zaer, Irene Farrelly, Peggy Banaghan, Eileen Ramsbottom, Brendan Byrne. Lord in your mercy.
For all who have been called by God to eternal life in these last few days: Barbara Nolan, Des Moran, Martin Tarpey and James Leach and Agnes Benson AND For all those souls whose anniversaries occur about this time: Stephen Sharples (VIGIL), Matthew Daly (11am), Afram Zaer, Michael and Mary Connolly, Patrick Garrett and Marjorie Garrett. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace . Amen.
Our Lady stood by her Son from Bethlehem to Calvary and so experienced the joy of Easter Morn. May her faithful example warm our hearts as we move into these days of Holy Week. Hail Holy Queen...
Priest: Lord, the children of Jerusalem welcomed you as Christ the King - may we welcome you as our Saviour and Lord as we make these prayers to you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen