This Sunday falls between the two great feasts of Ascension and Pentecost. Jesus has returned to God the Father, and the Church is waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today’s Gospel, again, comes from John’s account of the Last Supper. Jesus prays to God the Father in the presence of his disciples. He has finished the work that his Father gave him. He has revealed God’s love to the world, and he has glorified the Father by his life and teaching. Now, Jesus knows that he is returning to the Father. He instructs the community of disciples who will remain to continue his work. The disciples belong to God. They have heard Jesus’ words and come to know him. They will witness to what they have heard and seen, and so they will bring others to God.
Today, we are the disciples sent into the world by Jesus. We belong to God by our baptism. We have come to know Jesus and believe in him, through hearing his words. We are filled with the Holy Spirit, who transforms us and gives us courage to face the opposition of the world. God is glorified when we live by the teachings of Christ. God is glorified when we keep God’s word, by loving God and our neighbour. Even in these strange and difficult times, we can give glory to God, and help others come to faith, by our witness and our love for one another. We are in the world, and we belong to God
World Communications Day is today. Pope Francis has asked us to pray for ‘those who work in the media, who work to communicate today so that people are not isolated… who help us to bear this time of isolation.’ Information and resources at www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/wcd20
At present, there is no change in the regulations requiring the closure of all churches. The Bishops of England & Wales are working with the Government to make it possible for churches to open, for private prayer and later for public worship. Any change in the rules will be announced when it happens.
The Catholic Universe and Catholic Times are continuing to publish during the period of lockdown. From this week, the two will be combined in a single newspaper, with the Catholic Times appearing as a supplement within the Catholic Universe.
The Catholic newspapers will continue to be available in a box outside the church door, together with paper copies of the parish bulletin, and copies of ‘Walk with Me,’ a booklet of Eastertide prayers and reflections. If you pass St Cuthbert’s during your daily exercise, or while doing essential shopping, please pick up copies for yourself and your neighbours, especially for anyone who is quarantined.
You could also consider ordering the Catholic papers for delivery to your home, at https://www.thecatholicuniverse.com/ or by phone on 0161 820 5722.
This month’s edition of our diocesan newspaper is being published online only. You can download the Northern Cross for April free at www.northerncross.org.uk
The Parish Office is closed until further notice. Ciara is working from home, and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org but replies may take some time. You can contact the church by telephone on 0191 384 3442 – please leave a message if Fr Andrew is not in.
A number of qualified counsellors and listeners have generously made themselves available to anyone who may be troubled by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. These counsellors and listeners can be contacted through the St Mary’s Cathedral Listening Service on 0191 232 6953 and the Northumberland Listening Service on 07732 980740.
Hospital visits: The University Hospital of North Durham has suspended visiting of patients, with limited exceptions for children’s wards, maternity wards and end-of-life patients. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and to bring them Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of a patient who wishes for a visit from the Catholic Hospital Chaplain, please inform Fr Paul Tully on 01388 818544 or email@example.com
St Cuthbert’s Hospice is closed to all visitors, with limited exceptions for end-of-life patients. If you know of a patient in the hospice who wishes to contact a priest, please get in touch with Fr Andrew.
It is five years this week since Pope Francis published his encyclical letter on care for our common home. See http://www.rcdhn.org.uk/social_concerns/laudato%20si.php for a message from Bishop Robert, and https://laudatosiweek.org/ for more information.
On 20th May, an opt-out system was introduced for organ donation in England. The Catholic Church has issued guidelines on the ethical issues around organ donation, which you can find here: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/organ-donation-guidelines-200520
The effect of coronavirus on countries without good health systems will be devastating. CAFOD has launched an emergency appeal to:
Deliver food to where it is needed most.
Improve hygiene, handwashing and sanitation at the community and household level.
Produce radio messages, posters and leaflets in local languages on risks and prevention.
Train community volunteers to carry out awareness campaigns.
For more information and to donate, go to www.cafod.org.uk
If you can, please support charities which are continuing to care for those in most need during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aid to the Church in Need: acnuk.org
Depaul (working with the homeless and vulnerable): uk.depaulcharity.org
Little Sisters of the Poor: www.littlesistersofthepoor.co.uk
St Cuthbert’s Care: www.stcuthbertscare.org.uk
Mary’s Meals; marysmeals.org.uk
Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper. He looks ahead, beyond his death and resurrection, to the time after he has returned to his Father; and he tells his disciples that they will not be left alone. The Father and the Son will send the Holy Spirit to be with the disciples. The Spirit is described as Parakletos – a word that means advocate, counsellor or supporter. The Spirit of truth will stand alongside the disciples and be the life of their community; ‘…he is with you, he is in you.’ The world cannot receive or recognise the Spirit, but the Spirit works powerfully in the disciples who love Jesus, drawing them into the loving relationship of Father, Son and Spirit.
In the First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, we see the Holy Spirit at work. The power of the Spirit can even overcome the ancient enmity between Jews and Samaritans; the people of the Samaritan town welcome Philip and come to faith in Christ, and they are cleansed of demons and healed of sickness. A Spirit-filled Church is a living and healing Church. This time of pandemic, when we cannot enter our church buildings or gather as a community, challenges us to reconsider what it means to be a Church. The Church is a community of disciples, united in faith and filled with the Holy Spirit. We are a Church when we live by Christ’s commandments of love for God and for our neighbour. There are many ways to show love, even in these strange times. Our life as a Church is not confined to buildings or structures. The Spirit knows no limits.
The Funeral Service for Agnes Henderson will be celebrated at South Road Cemetery, Durham on Tuesday 19th May at 1.00pm.
The Funeral Service for Elizabeth (Lily) Mitchinson will be celebrated at Durham Crematorium on Thursday 21st May at 3.00pm.
Please pray for the repose of their souls, and for their families
This is offered online every Sunday at 10am. You can register via the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Education/Children-s-liturgy
Jesus is with his disciples at the Last Supper. He knows that he will soon be facing death, and he wants to reassure his friends that he is going to his Father. The disciples ask for proof, but Jesus, instead, asks them to trust in him. When Thomas says, ‘Show us the way,’ Jesus replies, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ When Philip asks, ‘Let us see the Father,’ Jesus’ response is, ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me.’ He is reminding the disciples of all that they have seen while they have been with him. They have heard his teaching, seen his miracles and come to know him. Only moments earlier, he has shown them a striking example of his ‘Way’ by washing their feet. This is the way of love that Jesus calls his disciples to follow.
Having faith does not mean that we know all the answers. Christian faith is a loving relationship with Jesus. Unlike Thomas, Philip and the other apostles, we have not met Jesus face to face. We have come to know him through the Word of God and the sacraments – by sharing in the life of the Church. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,’ and he was speaking of the many disciples like us, who would come to know him through the witness of the apostles. He calls us to trust him and follow him.
In today’s Second Reading, St Peter calls Jesus the ‘cornerstone,’ and says that we disciples are ‘living stones’ making up God’s house. At present, our churches are closed and we cannot worship together. Nevertheless, by our baptism we are living stones and a holy priesthood. The house of God is not confined to a building: it is built wherever there is faith in Christ, and loving service to our neighbour. There are many rooms in our Father’s house.
For the staff of our Catholic primary and secondary schools, who are keeping the schools open for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, and also providing online teaching and support for those who are at home. Please pray too for all of our young people, especially those preparing to leave school to begin work or further study.
This Thursday, 14th May, we are hosting a Diocesan Day of Prayer for the sick and their families, NHS front-line, social care workers and other key workers. The day will be streamed online and begins with Divine Office from St. Mary’s Cathedral, and ends with Rt Rev Bishop Robert Byrne CO celebrating Mass for the sick and their families, and for NHS front–line, social care and key workers at 7.00pm. The Cathedral’s Youtube channel is at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC12EvW0Eqg-cFTh5i2y_EQw
A 7-session online discernment programme for men considering priesthood. Could Jesus be calling you to be a priest? Our online course of reflection and discussion is an opportunity to ask that question. Gathering as an online group, we will discuss what it means to discern a vocation, learn a little about the path to priesthood and enjoy fellowship in the process! The course will take place at 7:15pm on Mondays beginning Monday 11th May. To express interest in joining our sessions, or to find out more, please contact Fr Chris Warren, Vocations Director, on firstname.lastname@example.org
CAFOD launched its coronavirus emergency appeal on 30 April. The effects of coronavirus on developing countries where CAFOD works are likely to be devastating. Families without enough to eat and without access to clean water and healthcare are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. The poorest and most marginalised communities will be pushed further into poverty. Your prayers and gifts are needed now more than ever to help protect the lives of those in poor communities.
You can find out more about CAFOD’s response to the coronavirus emergency, and donate online, here.