On 22nd September we will begin our classes at St Dorothy’s Convent. The timetable for the classes is in the section “Classes and Courses”. As usual we will have a class for children aged 6-7 with Sr Paula, a class for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion preparation (children aged 8 and up - usually starting Year 3 at school) with me (Mary Stanier, Sr Alejandra, and Deirdre Allen). We also normally have a class for children in school year 4-6 and one for those in school year 7-8. We may have to request new volunteers to lead these classes as some catechists have moved away. Please think about doing this rewarding job and contact me email@example.com. Even if you could only do a few sessions per term, it would be great. We are having a short meeting in church on 8th September after the 10am Family Mass. If you are interested in signing up your children please stay on after Mass and bring a pen!
Look for God’s fingerprints everywhere
If someone asked you, “Name three things today that made you happy,” what would you say? If they asked, “Name three little things today that made you happy,” what would you say?
Either question is great to discuss as a family. Whether you do so over the dinner table or on the way home from school, nearly everyone can think of three things that made the day better. It is revealing to add in the adjective “little,” as it can encourage us to think beyond the more obvious things (friends, health, home) and notice the smaller things we don’t often register in the moment. The friend who shared his snack at playtime, the smell of freshly cut grass, the cute puppy we saw going out for a walk—it’s easy to forget these things unless we have a reason to remember. These questions give us a reason. They invite us to pause, review our experiences, and recognize that even in the most challenging days, God’s fingerprints are everywhere we look.
Tell people what you love about them
Every night, before falling asleep, share one thing that you love about each other. It’s a terrific way to end the day on a note of recognition. It can be inspired by the experiences of the day: “I love how you are so great at fixing my computer,” or, “I love how supportive you are when I’m stressed.” This exercise isn’t just for spouses; you can tell your children one thing that you love about them. It’s very grounding to wrap the day up by recognizing the good. Even if there has been family tension or frustration in the hours before bed, verbalizing something you love about a person is a simple but meaningful way to reconnect. It’s one more simple but effective way to recognize the people we share our lives with and to recognize God’s goodness in them.
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.”
Perhaps over the summer break you could teach this prayer to your children/learn it yourself if you don’t know it already. It is at once comforting and challenging. It helps to take us out of ourselves and remember what we’re really here for: to love and help each other.
Here we see a lovely photograph taken in our parish room of (from the left) Jean-Michel, Pamela, Clare (holding the cake), Leah and Renée herself. Bonne anniversaire to Renée - one of our lovely French parishioners who has made Hampstead her home for over four decades.
On 15th June 31 children from our parish made their First Holy Communion. Not even the grotty wet weather could dampen spirits as we celebrated this beautiful sacrament together. Sr Alejandra, Deirdre and I had a really lovely time with these children and we will miss them in our class on Sundays. I am sure the next group will be just as delightful though! Don’t they all look lovely in this photo?
On 9th June Bishop Nicholas Hudson confirmed 35 of our teenage parishioners. The majority of the candidates are in Year 9 and at a variety of secondary schools. Many knew each other before coming to the Confirmation course having attended local Catholic prep schools. Several did not know each other, however, but we hope that firm friendships were forged as the course progressed. After a retreat, a day at Flame (Catholic Youth event) held in Wembley and some ten 90 minute sessions at St Dorothy’s Convent with a team of four catechists, the candidates received the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost. We are proud of them and pray for them and their families.
Jean Vanier, Canadian, Catholic philosopher, humanitarian, theologian and founder of L'Arche (1964), a community which supports people with disabilities, died today. The community is active all over the world with about 150 centres. Vanier had been suffering from cancer and was looked after at a L’Arche facility in Paris.
Jean Vanier was often called “the living saint”. He did not like to hear that. H wanted everyone to believe that we all have the capacity to do wonderful and beautiful things in the world.
He has a wealth of insightful quotes which we can reflect on and pray about.
"The message of the Gospel, he said, is to become men and women of compassion. If you become a man or a woman of compassion, you will be like Jesus".
““We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don't need a lot of money to be happy--in fact, the opposite. “
We have lost a great humanitarian today.
Our Confirmation Group had the great opportunity to attend Flame 2019 at Wembley on 2nd March. Flame is the biggest-ever Catholic youth event in England and Wales and brings together over 9,000 young Catholics.
The theme this year is: #Significance. Through drama, song and worship the Gospel scene of the road to Emmaus was brought to life to show what it means for our lives. Christ accompanied those down-trodden, depressed men who thought they had lost everything, especially He whom they loved so much. He walked with them on the way and shared their experience. As he spoke, their eyes were opened and they understood the significance of all that had happened. This led to them joyfully returning to that which they had been running away from, and the adventure of Christian living began.
Please join us for Stations of the Cross at 10am on Good Friday, 19th April 2019.
St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. His feast day is 17th March. As he lived so long ago- he was born around 450 AD - there are few accurate facts known about him. He is known to have been born in Britain in a place called Bannavem Taburniae on the Welsh/British border. He was sold into slavery and taken to Ireland. Patrick was very religious and prayed a lot. As a slave, he spent his days herding sheep. Legend has it that he prayed so hard one day he heard a voice telling him a ship was ready to take him away. And indeed the ship took him back home to Bannavem Taburniae. Patrick saw many visions. In one he was visited by an angel with a message from the Irish: “We beg you, Holy Boy, to come and walk again among us.” He trained as a bishop and went back to Ireland. However, answering the call of the Irish was hard. He suffered terribly as he travelled around Ireland spreading Christianity, living in harsh conditions and frequently being attacked.
According to one legend Patrick, mirroring Christ in the wilderness, fasted for 40 days on a mountain. Unlike Christ, he seemingly lost control of himself, weeping and throwing things. He refused to come down off the mountain until an angel came from God and granted Patrick’s demands. Again as the story goes, these demands included that he would be able to save more souls from hell than any other saint, that he would judge Irish sinners at the end of time and that the English would never rule Ireland. We know that sadly the last demand was not met but we won’t ever know about the other two!
Folklore has it that St Patrick banished snakes from Ireland and he is often depicted with snakes. This is just a story; there weren’t any snakes in Ireland in St Patrick’s time.
Patron Saint of Ireland
St Brigid is one of the Patron Saints of Ireland along with St Patrick and Columcille. She was born in Dundalk in 450AD. She is also known as Mary of the Gael or Muire na nGael aka Our Lady of the Irish.
When she was young, St Brigid wanted to join a convent. Her father, however, wanted her to marry the wealthy man he promised her to. St Brigid prayed to God that he take away her beauty so that the man wouldn’t want to marry her. God took away her beauty and the man no longer wanted her. Her father in turn capitulated and she joined the convent. Once in the convent her beauty returned and she was even more beautiful than before. After some time she asked again for God’s help to get her father to give her some land in Kildare to set up a convent. Her father scathingly remarked that he would only give her as much land as she could cover with her cloak. Obviously with God’s help St Brigid’s cloak grew to cover acres of land.
St Brigid’s Cross
There is a special St Brigid’s cross. She first made one from rushes found on the ground when she was at her father’s bedside. He was dying. She told her father stories of Christ and before he died her father was baptised. Apparently, people used to make similar crosses to hang over the door of their homes to ward off evil, fire and hunger. Over time, word spread about St Brigid, her kindness, faith and the making of the cross became synonymous with her and the tradition now bears her name.
St Brigid died at the age of 75 in AD 525 and was buried in the church she created. Her remains were exhumed years later and brought to Downpatrick to be buried alongside Saints Patrick and Columcille. Her skull, however, was taken to Lisbon where it remains today.
In our First Holy Communion group we have been thinking about three things we can each do to be helpful and kind in our homes. We have made sure that these things are specific and achievable such as “make my bed” rather than “be kinder to my sister” - obviously a laudable and important goal but not so easy to measure! Why not do the same? Each of you can have three things or fewer that you will do to make a positive difference in your homes and/or communities.
Advent is the season when we prepare for the First Coming of Christ at Christmas and also when we reflect that there will be a Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. The liturgical colour of Advent is purple since the season like Lent is one of preparation for a great mystery. On the third Sunday the priest wears rose (pink) for Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete means rejoice). Throughout Advent we do not say or sing the Gloria in Excelsis Deo as this is heaven’s response to the glorious birth of Jesus. Hence we sing it again once Christmas arrives. Click above to read more.
As we prepare for Christmas during the period of Advent, let us think less about receiving and more about giving. Did you know that a gift of £30 becomes £37.50 if you gift aid it? Did you know that of the top ten local authorities with the highest child poverty rates, 6 are in London. These include our own borough of Camden where almost 40% of children live in poverty. Let’s try to make sure that those children have a nice Christmas, by giving money or a gift to charities such as our very own Catholic Children’s Society. Get involved as a family. Discuss what/how much to give and to whom.
An Italian Dominican theologian considered by the Catholic Church to be its foremost Western philosopher and theologian. He organised his teaching in the form of questions in which critical research is presented by pro and con arguments, according to the pedagogical system then in use in the universities. The Five Ways, Latin Quinquae Viae, in the philosophy of religion, the five arguments proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas (1224/25–1274) as demonstrations of the existence of God. The Five Ways are examples of natural theology. In other words, they are a concerted attempt to discern divine truth in the order of the natural world.
Aquinas’s first three arguments—from motion, from causation, and from contingency—are types of what is called the cosmological argument for divine existence. Each begins with a general truth about natural phenomena and proceeds to the existence of an ultimate creative source of the universe. In each case, Aquinas identifies this source with God.
Aquinas’s first demonstration of God’s existence is the argument from motion. He drew from Aristotle’s observation that each thing in the universe that moves is moved by something else. Aristotle reasoned that the series of movers must have begun with a first or prime mover that had not itself been moved or acted upon by any other agent. Aristotle sometimes called this prime mover “God.” Aquinas understood it as the God of Christianity.
The second of the Five Ways, the argument from causation, builds upon Aristotle’s notion of an efficient cause, the entity or event responsible for a change in a particular thing. Aristotle gives as examples a person reaching a decision, a father begetting a child, and a sculptor carving a statue. Because every efficient cause must itself have an efficient cause and because there cannot be an infinite chain of efficient causes, there must be an immutable first cause of all the changes that occur in the world, and this first cause is God.
Aquinas’s third demonstration of God’s existence is the argument from contingency, which he advances by distinguishing between possible and necessary beings. Possible beings are those that are capable of existing and not existing. Many natural beings, for example, are possible because they are subject to generation and corruption. If a being is capable of not existing, then there is a time at which it does not exist. If every being were possible, therefore, then there would be a time at which nothing existed. But then there would be nothing in existence now, because no being can come into existence except through a being that already exists. Therefore, there must be at least one necessary being—a being that is not capable of not existing. Furthermore, every necessary being is either necessary in itself or caused to be necessary by another necessary being. But just as there cannot be an infinite chain of efficient causes, so there cannot be an infinite chain of necessary beings whose necessity is caused by another necessary being. Rather, there must be a being that is necessary in itself, and this being is God.
Aquinas’s fourth argument is that from degrees of perfection. All things exhibit greater or lesser degrees of perfection. There must therefore exist a supreme perfection that all imperfect beings approach yet fall short of. In Aquinas’s system, God is that paramount perfection.
Aquinas’s fifth and final way to demonstrate God’s existence is an argument from final causes, or ends, in nature (see teleology). Again, he drew upon Aristotle, who held that each thing has its own natural purpose or end. Some things, however—such as natural bodies—lack intelligence and are thus incapable of directing themselves toward their ends. Therefore, they must be guided by some intelligent and knowledgeable being, which is God.
God created everything ex nihilo
God did not create out of need. God is God and needs nothing. As Vatican I puts it: He created ‘to manifest and share his Glory’.
This means the entire universe has been LOVED into existence.
LOVE is the ground. God doesn’t need it. He willed it into existence to share it with us.