Septuagesima Sunday

PeterInPenitenceAlthough little noted in our contemporary liturgical observance, Septuagesima Sunday once marked an important point in the Church’s year. In the middle ages, some religious began the Lenten fast at Septuagesima, not forty days but up to seventy (as the word indicates) days before Easter. Before Lent properly began, there was a ‘little Lent’, a time of preparation for the penitential season. Even though we no longer observe this ‘little Lent’, there are good reasons at least to mark the day. My attention was drawn to the Church’s bygone practice in a homily I heard a few years ago, which has shaped my attitude to Lent (and in good measure to the spiritual life more generally). Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, but the mode of our preparation is not prescribed with rigorous detail. (More to come on what is specifically asked of the faithful during Lent.) We choose to give up things we enjoy, or take on things which will challenge us.

Marking Septuagesima Sunday gives us a chance to consider prayerfully how we ought to observe Lent. Waiting until Ash Wednesday to make our minds up won’t prepare us adequately for this important period in the liturgical year and in our own spiritual lives. Nor ought we to regard our Lenten observance along the lines of New Year’s resolutions, which once blown tend to be tossed aside until next year. We may well stumble in our striving for true penitence. But God’s grace abounds during Lent, and we are invited to get up and try again, as many times as we fail. So we can take on something that is a challenge, something we are not certain we can do. Still, struggling through Lent, depending on God’s grace, might be just the right way to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s victory (which is also our own) at Easter.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Holy Half Hour

Most Wednesdays during university term (and continuing through Lent) we have a “Holy Half Hour” before the 7pm Mass – after the celebration of Vespers at 6:15pm, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and there is opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).

All are welcome to come along for this time of quiet prayer and reflection.

Hoper Dixon Trust

The Hoper Dixon Trust is a registered charity associated with the Dominican Friars which makes grants for the relief of poverty of those who live near or are connected in some way to a Dominican house. Grants can be made for essential household items, furniture, white goods etc.; help with educational expenses; or for participation in activities, retreats and courses. If you or someone you know might be able to benefit from a grant, please speak to fr. Ben.

Ushaw Lecture: History and Fiction

NovelistsPiers Paul Read will deliver an Ushaw Lecture History and Fiction: how novelists shape the past on Tuesday 26 January. Piers Paul Read is the author of works of fiction, reportage, history, biography and journalism. He is best known for Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors.

5.30pm for drinks; lecture 6:00pm-7.30pm
Venue: Ushaw College

If you wish to attend the lecture you must register with Dr Hannah Thomas, hannah.thomas2@durham.ac.uk or 0191 334 1656.

Resurrection of the Dead

pascha-01The creed concludes by directing our attention to our own end: we ‘look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’. Maybe by the time we get to the last line, our attention has moved on to the next part of the Mass, or even to what’s for Sunday lunch. Or maybe the repetition week by week has dulled our perception of its oddity. The resurrection of the dead? The life of the world to come? However often we say these things, and however much we might know about the Church’s teaching on resurrection and new life, the future remains ultimately mysterious: we believe, but we do not grasp these things.

Yet remembering our end is of critical importance: even the New York Times advises us to do so. In a recent article Arthur Brooks advised readers to bear their death in mind in order to live a more fulfilling life. (This week our mortality has been brought into incredibly sharp focus, too, by the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman.) Rather than making us more gloomy, he says, remembering the transitory nature of our life heightens our capacity for humour and joy. Not only that: Brooks suggests that concentrating on the ‘scarcity of time’ can help us to choose our pastimes more consciously, focusing on those things that bring real satisfaction (and those listed include prayer and worship) over those that merely distract us.

The op-ed section isn’t the place I would usually turn for spiritual guidance. In this case, though, Brooks points to something we ought to know: that growth in our spiritual life requires a form of attention that directs us to our ultimate end. For his readers, death is the end. We look forward to something else: the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Contemplating this mystery forms a crucial part of the practice of Christian life, and bathes our ordinary experience in everlasting light.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Apostleship of the Sea

Bishop Seamus Cunningham will be celebrating Mass on Thursday 4 February, 7:00pm at St Bede’s Church, South Shields, to commission the port chaplains and ship visitors of the Apostleship of the Sea for their work with seafarers on behalf of the Church. The Mass will be followed by a reception in the parish hall. Everyone is welcome to both the Mass and reception. For further information please contact Paul Atkinson (07906 212426) or Peter Barrigan (07713 924504).

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The week of Prayer for Christian Unity Week runs from 18 to 25 January. Events planned include:

  • Durham Churches Together Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday 20 January at 8:00am at North Road Methodist Church hosted by Deacon Annette Sharp. All are welcome and there is no charge to attend. Please do book your place by contacting Kirsty Thomas or Deacon Annette Sharp on thomas.kirsty@gmail.com or annette.sharp@methodist.org.uk.
  • Gareth Davies-Jones, singer-songwriter, leads an “alternative Evening Service of songs and stories to entertain, challenge and inspire” on Sunday 24 January at 6:00pm at Elvet Methodist Church.

Catholic Theology Research Seminar: Disordered Bodies and the Body of Christ

Prof. Gerard Loughlin will speak on “Disordered Bodies and the Body of Christ” at the Catholic Theology Research Seminar on Monday 18 January.
5.15pm for drinks; seminar 5.30pm-7.00pm

Venue: Seminar Room B, Abbey House, Palace Green

A group will share a meal afterwards at a local restaurant.

All are welcome to attend. Please email ccs.admin@durham.ac.uk or call 0191 334 1656 if you wish to attend, noting whether or not you wish to dine afterwards.

Pastoral Council Meeting 22 October 2015

Present:  Norma Brown, Stephanie Brown, David Crookes, Margaret Davis, Andy Doyle, Margaret Doyle, fr. Benjamin Earl, Bernard Faulkner, Dominic Goodall, Margaret Harvey (taking minutes), David Hughes (Chair), Sarah Milner, John Marsland, Judy McClean, Susan Penswick, Frances Simmons, John Urquhart.

1
The meeting opened with a prayer.

2
Apologies for absence were received from Cliona Kear.

3
Minutes of the last meeting were accepted.

4
There were no matters arising.

5
There were as yet no nominations for the post of Deputy Chair.

6
The Financial Report was presented by John Marsland, who said that there was £38, 869 in our current account and £43, 603 in the deposit account. This healthy situation, however, was to be considered against the need to send £4, 500 collected for Belpahar to another charity (see below number 7e) and £1500 earmarked for chalices (see below, number 7f). Furthermore the balustrade would
require about £10,000, and work was needed for the entrance, the presbytery, and decoration, which would take about another £10,000.

We also need LED lighting for the church, which will cost about £20,000, but we are approaching the Diocese for this.

At a recent meeting the Finance Committee decided to institute a rotation system, so that members would retire in turn.

There was discussion of the Special Collections for various diocesan causes, for some of which we currently pay out of parish funds, whereas for others a special collection is held. It was agreed that we need to know more about the details of the collections and Andy Doyle agreed to do research on the question and report back, so that priorities may be agreed.

Following a suggestion made to the Forward in Hope process John Marsland will try to improve communication with the parish about finance beginning with a briefing in November.

7
Reports from sub-committees and groups.

a)
Building Committee. The report was presented by Gil Bolton. The balustrade was due to be delivered on Tuesday. The Combi boiler providing hot water and heating to the ground floor is still problematic. A contractor has identified the problem, and quoted for the repair but we are still waiting for the work to be carried out.

A formal request will be sent to the diocese to replace the church lighting with a more efficient and accessible system (see minute 6 above). The existing system is out of date, expensive to run and to maintain. Until we have diocesan approval there is little point in taking the matter further.

Susan Penswick reported that some fund-givers for the Building Project check regularly to ensure that we are opening the church as we undertook to do.

b)
On Fundraising
Fr Ben reported that at a recent meeting the former Fundraising Committee had decided that a group more focussed on organising social events would now better serve parish needs. The group will call itself the Events Group and will meet ad hoc to plan what is needed. The first meeting is to be 29 November after the 10am Mass. At that meeting the group will discuss who is to chair it and how it may be organised.

c)
Catholic Society. Dominic Goodall reported that so far the Society is doing very well. The group had been able to replace its musicians with excellent singers, the Fresher’s Fair had gone well and the first student mass (and the meal that followed) had been packed. Lauds and breakfast and Cath Soc night continue to be well attended and there is a good programme for the term.

Room for improvement might lie in attempting to become more
self-financing.

At the Forward Together in Hope discussion the members had decided that they would welcome more involvement with the wider Durham Community, and so would seek to link up with some existing local charitable work, as other student religious societies already do.

The students would also welcome more links with the parish and suggest, for instance, a joint Bible Study and prayer group.

It was suggested that John Marsland should address the students at the 6.30 Mass as well as the parish at 10am. (see number 6 above).

d)
On Churches together in Elvet and Shincliffe Andy Doyle reported that at the St Oswald’s Day celebrations in August, which had been very successful under a new format, not many Catholics had been
present.

Churches Together had decided to organise talks. The first would be on 17 November, on ‘Policing in the 21st Century’. A further talk on
‘Prison Life’, and another on ‘Cosmology’ would follow, the dates to be arranged.

Some adjustments need to be made in the distribution of Christmas cards, especially to blocks of flats.

The Rev. Shaun Swithenbank will talk to the Rev. Alan Middleton, Chair of Churches Together in Durham about the possibility of holding one service only for the whole city in the Elvet and Shincliffe cluster in Unity Week 2016.

Lent talks in 2016 will involve three Tuesday evenings, two with some clips from films on Lenten themes and then one whole film.

The Holy Island Pilgrimage in 2016 will be on 11 June

St Nicholas church is seeking members of a choir for its presentation of The Nativity in the market place.

Margaret Harvey reported that Churches Together in Durham had organised a very successful evening discussion of Laudato Si

e)
Margaret Davis reported that the Justice and Peace Group continues to meet after Sunday Mass and to collect loo rolls and biscuits. They continue in contact with the Refugee Project.

The money (£4131) collected for Belpahar will now be sent to a Cafod Hands On project for this time only.  The recipient of a further £800 has yet to be decided.

The Virtual Village Project is continuing.

Gift Aid is to be facilitated.

The Bishop has enquired about what the parishes are doing for refugees. Maryanne Fleming is the parish link for this.

A letter has been sent from local church leaders to urge the government to do more for refugees. The meeting agreed that more practical advice about what individuals can do would help.

f)
Andy Doyle spoke on Liturgy. New chalices, to replace those old and worn, would be coming before Christmas (see number 6 above).

Remembrance Sunday will be celebrated as usual.

A Carol Service jointly with the Students will be held on Wednesday 16 December.

To mark the Year of Mercy in 2016 the parish will introduce a new hymn for which Paul Inwood has won a competition.  Further ways to mark the year are being discussed,

The celebration of 800 years of the Dominican Order will need to be
further considered.

We are aiming to have some ‘taster sessions’ to allow people to sample ministries for which (we hope) they will have suggested themselves on the Parish Census.

g)
There have been no diocesan meetings to report

9)    Margaret Doyle reported on the progress of Forward Together in Hope. She has now collected most of the data and has had three open meetings as well as having talks with individuals. All the information is on the parish web-site.

A second DVD on the subject, rather long, has been sent to her, which may be borrowed.

The next meeting for the parish will be on 5 November, to sum up our strengths and weaknesses. The Diocese is particularly anxious for more involvement of young people. The parish will act upon its own findings in any case.

Margaret also sought information and opinions about the Parish Pastoral Council, presenting its guidelines (of 2002) for scrutiny. These are very out of date and need to be reviewed. It was decided to do this at a later meeting. For purposes of a questionnaire Margaret asked when the Council had begun. It was agreed that this had happened some time in the 1970s. The meeting considered that the Council performed a very useful service.

10)  There were no items from the parish Priest.

11) There was no other business.

12)  The next meeting will be on 18 February 2016.at 7.30pm in the Parish Room

The meeting ended with a prayer.

Parish Evening: Citizenship as Christians

The heavenly cityDuring the university term the students gather at the Chaplaincy each Wednesday for ‘Cathsoc night’ and on Wednesday 13th January, we will be doing something similar for the Parish. There will be exposition from 6.30pm and the opportunity for confession. Mass is at 7.00pm, and we will gather after Mass (at about 7.30pm) for a shared meal and a discussion, about our role as citizens in Durham today, concluding with prayer at about 9.00pm. You are welcome to come along for as little or as much of the evening as you like.

Dry January? The feast goes on…

Baptism of ChristIt has been a damp start to 2016, with the Wear breaking its banks in Durham, and far worse further afield. So perhaps it is not the best year for Alcohol Concern‘s annual “Dry January” campaign.

The thinking behind the campaign is excellent. Christianity, like many religious traditions, recognises the need for tempering periods of feasting with periods of abstinence. This is good for personal and public health, both physically and spiritually.

Christianity is rather out of step with the world, though, on its feasting and fasting. The High Street celebrated Christmas from early autumn; we didn’t begin Christmas until 24 December. The secular party was over within days of that, and talk is now of recovery; for us Christians the party is very much still on. We are still celebrating the manifestation of Christ’s divinity in this time of Epiphany: last Sunday, to the Magi; this Sunday at his Baptism; and next Sunday at the Wedding at Cana. Our crib will remain in place until Candlemas, 2 February.

Of course we will fast, abstain and do penance when we get to Lent… but Ash Wednesday isn’t for another month. In the meantime, we should not let the return to work, to school or to university, be a mere resumption of dry drudgery. Instead, we take the festal joy of the coming of our Saviour into the world of our daily lives. Like the Prophet we continue to shout joyfully on the mountain, “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9).

University Vacation

During the University Christmas Vacation the Sunday evening Mass will be relatively subdued musically and there will be no Wednesday “Holy Half Hour” of Exposition with Confessions from Christmas until the new term begins.

The Sung Student Mass resumes on Sunday 17 January, and Holy Half Hour on Wednesday 20 January.

Churches Together New Year’s Eve Candlelit Procession

Durham Churches Together – the group of Christian communities in Durham (including St Cuthbert’s) working together – holds its annual Candlelit Procession and service on New Year’s Eve (Thursday 31 December) in thanksgiving for the year past, and praying for God’s blessings in the year to come.We gather in the Market Place at 6:15pm (please bring your own candle/lantern), and then proceed along the Bailey to Palace Green. There is a service of prayer together in Durham Cathedral at 6:30pm.

Carol Singing and Children’s Christmas Party

On Sunday 20 December please do come along and join us to sing Christmas Carols for the residents of Hallgarth Care Home. We will meet at the church at 1:45pm to walk up to the home.

Following the carol singing there will be a childrens party in the parish room 3:30 – 5:30pm. All children (big and small) are welcome to join us for fun and party games. Please bring something for a shared party tea.

Christmas at St Cuthbert’s

Masses

  • Christmas Day (Friday 25 December): midnight and 10:30am
  • St Stephen’s Day (Saturday 26 December): 9:15am
  • Holy Family (Sunday 27 December): 10:00am and 6:30pm
  • 28th-31st December: 9:15am
  • New Year’s Day (1 January 2016): 12:15pm.

Sacrament of Penance (Confession)

  • from 9:45am on Saturday 19 December
  • from 6:30pm on Wednesday 23 December
  • from 11:15pm on Thursday 24 December
For more details about Christmas services, see www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk/christmas.

Survey for Young People 11-19

Forward Together in Hope is taking place across the whole of the Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. It is about everyone, young and old, getting involved in thinking about and discussing what our Church should be like so that we can bring the Good News of God’s love to others.

We are really keen to get views from young people aged 11-19, whether you are Catholic or not – and whether you go to church or not. We want to look at our Church through your eyes and want to learn from you.

The survey can be found at forwardtogether.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/young-peoples-survey and more information about the process can be found at www.hope.rcdhn.org.uk.

Advent Camel

Over the last few years, the parish has gradually populated a virtual village for CAFOD. In Advent last year the young people of the parish, raised enough money to buy a camel. This year we are hoping to add another camel to the village.

A camel costs £400. The gift of a camel provides a poor family with up to seven litres of milk a day, which can be sold to buy food and school books. The family can also rear and sell calves for a much needed income. Furthermore a camel can carry weights of up to 200kgs, meaning that a family has a source of transport, that can be used to help them earn a living. Thank you for help with this project.

Christmas Collections

Collections taken at the Christmas Masses are taken for Parish Funds, in the same way as at Sunday Masses throughout the year.If you would also like to make a Christmas gift to the Dominican Community of Friars which serves St Cuthbert’s, you may do so using one of the blue envelopes available on display in the narthex. Envelopes can be dropped into the collection basket or returned to the presbytery.

If you are a UK taxpayer, you can increase the value of your gift by completing the Gift Aid declaration on the envelope. Cheques should be made payable to “The Dominican Council”.

Thank you for your generosity both to the Parish and to the Dominican Community now and throughout the year – the Friars wish you a very happy and holy Christmas.

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