Advent Carol Service

Advent Wreath and Christmas TreeSt Cuthbert’s Parish and the Durham University Catholic Society warmly invite you to our Advent Carol Service at 6:30pm on Wednesday 16 December. Come along for an evening of traditional readings from Scripture and carol singing, led by the choirs of the Parish and Chaplaincy, as we unfold the Christmas Story together.

Do also join us for some festive refreshments in the Parish Room (just behind the church) after the service. We hope to see you there – and we warmly encourage you to bring friends along.

Because of the Carol Service, Mass on 16 December will be celebrated at the earlier time of 12:15pm. There will be no “Holy Half Hour” of Vespers, exposition and confessions that evening.

Joint IMEMS/CCS Ushaw Lecture

On Tuesday 15 December, Prof John Morrill (Cambridge University) ‘Celebrating Advent and Christmas in the Penal Times.’The evening will begin at 5:30pm for drinks and the lecture will start at 6:00pm in the Exhibition Hall, Ushaw College. Followed by the Ushaw Carol Service, 7.30pm in St Cuthbert’s Chapel.

To attend the drinks reception and lecture (free of charge), please contact ccs.admin@durham.ac.uk or 0191 334 1656. To obtain a ticket for the carol service, please email tickets@ushaw.org.

Opening of Year of Mercy

Merciful like the Father (Year of Mercy)The Jubilee Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis opens this coming Tuesday, 8 December, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

From 8am to 8pm that day at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, there will be Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions available; Bishop Séamus will celebrate Mass at 7:15am and 12:05pm, and give a talk at 10:30am.

Then, on Sunday 13 December at 3:00pm, Bishop Séamus will open the Holy Door at the Cathedral. All are welcome at any of these celebrations.

Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee

Merciful like the Father (Year of Mercy)Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

The eternally begotten Son

TheotokosLast week we focused on the eschatological dimension of our faith in Christ – its relation to the end of this world. As Advent begins, we turn to the identity of Jesus as the eternally begotten Son of God.

During Advent we prepare for the feast of the Nativity. According to the Catechism, by this preparation we share in Israel’s long expectation of the messiah, and renew our own desire for Christ’s second coming (CCC 524). Our participation in the hope of Israel has an added dimension: we look not merely for the one who will restore the kingdom to Israel, but for the one who will reconcile humanity to God and so restore all of creation. The One whose birth we celebrate and whose return we anticipate is not a human king, but the eternally begotten Son of God, who is God: ‘God from God, light from light, true God from true God.’ The creed could not be clearer about the divinity of Jesus Christ.

The Creed helps us to consider this mystery and to meditate on it – an important practice for all Christians in a context in which our faith can be elbowed aside by the cultural expectations of gifts and party food. Although some of the advertisements encourage good works consistent with Christian faith — to be generous to those in most need, and to look toward the poor and neglected — the words of the creed draw us back to the foundations of our faith. Our concern for others is not a response to the evocative images set around us in the media but is an integral aspect of our
grateful response to the eternally begotten Son ‘who came down from heaven’ to save us. He himself is the gift for which we should long; he is the treasure of our hearts to be shared with others.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Events Group

One of the happy consequences of recent fundraising efforts has been the organisation of various social events which have helped bind St Cuthbert’s Parish together as a Christian community. Having achieved our immediate and urgent fundraising goals, we are instituting an Events Group which can take over from the Fundraising Committee and continue to build up the community in the Parish through social events (many of which will still raise money for the parish or other good causes).

The inaugural meeting of the Events Group will take place after the 10:00 Mass on Sunday 29 November: if you have ideas for social events or can give a little of your time to bringing our community together, please come along.

Parish Registration and Skills Audit

The Diocesan Forward Together in Hope process has identified a need at St Cuthbert’s to have an up-to-date register of worshippers here, and also an up-to-date audit of the skills you have to offer and the needs you may have. It has been twelve years since there was last a parish census and audit of this kind.We’re therefore distributing a simple registration form asking for details and needs of the members of your household on the front, and the skills and talents they can offer on the back.

We would ask all parishioners and regular worshippers to take one (or if necessary more) of these forms and return it to the parish office (or to the box provided at the back of church). This will help us make sure we’re all doing what we can to help our parish community in its mission of serving God and our neighbour.

If you know of parishioners who aren’t able to get to Mass, please do take a form for them too: they are part of our community, who have much to offer and whom we’re keen to help.

NB We already have a student registration system in place via www.durhamcatholic.org and the yellow slips available at the back of the church. So students do not need to use the parish registration form (but are welcome to do so if they wish).

Catholic Theology Research Seminar: Sacramentality of Mercy

SacramentalityOfMercyDr Ben Kautzer will speak on “The Sacramentality of Mercy: Practising the Compassion of God” at the Catholic Theology Research Seminar on Tuesday 1 December.

5.15pm for drinks; seminar 5.30pm-7.00pm
Venue: Seminar Room C, 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.

Teams of Our Lady

Teams of Our Lady is a worldwide organisation which helps married couples to develop and live out their married spirituality. Tom and Maureen Hoban will give a presentation about Teams after the 10:00am Mass on Sunday 22 November. We hope to start a group here at St Cuthbert’s and would encourage interested couples to attend this presentation. If you are unable to attend the presentation and would like to know more about Teams please contact fr. David.

Youth Ministry Trust Collection

On Sunday 22 November – Youth Sunday and the Feast of Christ the King – there is the annual collection for the work of the Diocese’s Youth Ministry Trust. Envelopes are available at the back of the church and can be dropped into the usual collection baskets. More information about the work of the Youth Ministry Trust can be found at www.ymt.org.

And his kingdom shall have no end

Christ the KingThe creed answers the question, ‘who is Jesus?’ from three angles. First, the creed tells us who Jesus is from eternity: Son of the Father Almighty. But unlike human sons, who are like and unlike their fathers, Jesus is of the Father’s being, like the Father in every way. He is fully God.

The second angle is historical: we declare that Jesus was born, suffered, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven. In this, the briefest of narratives, we affirm what Jesus did for us and for our salvation.

The solemnity of Christ the King invites us to consider Christ from the third angle, the eschatological, that is, with reference to the end (ta eschata are “the last things” in Greek). This phrase in the creed quotes Luke 1:33 and Isaiah 9:7 to assert that even though Jesus will hand the kingdom – that is his people – to the Father, and even though God will be “all in all” as 1 Cor 15:28 tells us, Christ will continue to reign with the Father, united with his Body the Church in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

But Christ the king is also judge of his Body and of all humanity, and “judge” can be a fearful image. Our fear should only ever be a holy fear, though, not a terror. When Peter, in his boat full of fish, recognised Christ, he exclaimed, ‘Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ Yet Jesus responded to Peter’s admission of sin with mercy, and called Peter to be his disciple. So also Jesus reveals us to ourselves even as he is revealed to us, and as he spoke to Peter he speaks to us as well: ‘Fear not.’ As we say the creed today, let us do so in confidence of his mercy and his power. Faithful is he who calls us, and he will lead us into his glory.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

College Mass – St John’s

St Johns ChapelThe first college Mass of term takes place at 7:00pm on Wednesday 18 November in the Chapel of St John’s College (i.e. the Church of St Mary the Less on South Bailey).

All parishioners and University members are welcome and warmly invited to the Mass.

Because of the college Mass there will be no “holy half hour” of Vespers, exposition and confessions at St Cuthbert’s that Wednesday evening.

One God, the Father Almighty

Baptism of the LordTaken in isolation, reference to the all-powerful God might be frightening rather than comforting. After all, in the contemporary world power is suspect, and absolute power all the more so. But God’s power is not corruptible, and it cannot be considered in isolation from three truths about the divine.

Firstly, the one in whom we believe, ‘God, the Father Almighty,’ is the Lord who is slow to anger and rich in mercy, near to the brokenhearted, and the saviour of all those who are crushed in spirit. God is love — boundless love that surpasses all we can imagine. Secondly, the power of the Almighty is the power of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We have seen this power: Jesus shows us the Father (John 14.8-10). He shows us compassion and love, and he makes use of the divine power in laying down his life and taking it up again, for our sake. God’s power comes to us in the eternal mercy this Father shows his eternal Son.

Finally, ‘Almighty’ means that God’s power is unique, unrivalled and beyond our comprehension. The emphasis on the oneness of this God in the creed reflects a theme Christians inherited from their Jewish origins (Deut 6.4), and it shows us that above and beyond all power in this world is that of the Father Almighty. But this power is something that exceeds our capacity to imagine. The greatness of this power is in its ability to love and to give life without loss, to create and recreate. Yet, far from being a stony and distant strength, the almighty power of God has drawn near to us in Christ and remains with us in the Holy Spirit. As nothing exists that could challenge the Almighty, that makes us very safe indeed.

Part of a series by Medi Ann Volpe

Prisons Week: 15-21 November

The
Parish Seeks to offer support to prisoners and their families in a
number of ways. On Sunday 22 November we will be having our annual
collection of toys, puzzles, coloured pencils etc. for children to
play with whilst visiting family members in prison. Please leave your
items under the bench in the narthex. 

Policing in the 21st Century

Inspector Dave CoxonDixon of Dock Green? The Sweeney? Cuffs? Come and listen to Inspector Dave Coxon’s presentation on the subject of real modern policing. Hosted by St Cuthbert’s Catholic Church on Tuesday 17th November at 7pm, this talk is one of Churches Together in Elvet & Shincliffe’s occasional series looking at the many facets of the world in which we live.

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