As soon as a child learns to speak, the questions start. What? Who? How? Why? Children are exploring, discovering, learning all about the world, and that’s why they have so many questions. Experts tell us that an average child asks as many as forty thousand questions between the ages of two and four. It can be exhausting for their parents, who have to try to come up with answers. Gradually, as the child grows up, the questions slow down. But it’s sad if we ever stop asking questions altogether, if that means that we are no longer curious about the world that God has made.
Jesus tells his disciples that God reveals the truth, not to the learned and the clever, but to children. Perhaps he means that God’s truth is revealed to those who, like children, have questions and are ready to learn. Those who were considered learned and clever in Jesus’ time – the chief priests, the scribes and Pharisees – generally didn’t become his disciples. They thought that they knew the answers already, and had nothing to learn from him. Jesus’ disciples, on the other hand, were mostly the poor and the outsiders – working men like Peter, tax collectors like Matthew, people burdened with sin or sickness. Jesus didn’t reject those people – he called them and welcomed them. To those who were ready to listen and learn, Jesus revealed the Good News that he had brought from God his Father. It was a message of love and forgiveness, and with Jesus, they found rest for their souls.
We are living in a strange time, when everything seems to be changing around us. We all have questions about what the world will be like after coronavirus, and no one seems to have the answers. Jesus calls us to come to him, and, like children, to trust him and learn from him. Then we will find rest for our souls.
On Sundays, Fr Andrew will lead an online reflection on the week’s Gospel reading.
On Sunday 5 July at 10.30am on Zoom – a shared reflection on today’s Gospel reading. For details of how to take part, join the ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community’ Facebook group, or email Fr Andrew on email@example.com Fr Andrew’s homily will also be recorded and posted on Facebook.
There will be a virtual coffee morning on Saturday 4 July at 10.30am on Zoom.
For details of how to join in these events, join the ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community’ Facebook group, or email Fr Andrew on firstname.lastname@example.org for the login details.
There will be a virtual meeting of St Cuthbert’s Parish Pastoral Council this Thursday, 9th July. If there are any items that you would like the PPC to discuss, please contact Fr Andrew.
The Archbishops of Westminster, Southwark, Birmingham and Liverpool have sent a letter to all Catholics in England about the gradual resumption of public worship in our churches. You can read the letter here
The Diocese of Middlesbrough has set up a system to allow people who do not have internet access to listen to Mass over the telephone. This service can be accessed by calling 01642 130120.
If you can, please consider switching to make your regular contribution to the Parish via a bank Standing Order. For details, contact Andy Doyle on email@example.com or 0798 543 4185
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.
The University Hospital of North Durham still has restrictions in place regarding visits to patients – see the hospital website for the latest information. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and can 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
For visits to patients in St Cuthbert’s Hospice, in care homes or in their own homes, please contact Fr Andrew.
Please check the parish website, www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk for regular updates. If you’re not already subscribed to our weekly e-newsletter, you can subscribe here. Also check the ‘St Cuthbert’s Church, Durham’ page on Facebook – from there, you can join our new Facebook group, ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community,’ which already has more than 100 members.
We have a network of parishioners who are keeping in touch via telephone, while social distancing is in force. If you would like to be contacted regularly (especially if you don’t have internet access), or if you know someone who would welcome such contact, please contact Fr Andrew on 0191 3843442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Sunday, 12th July, would normally be a day of special prayer for seafarers, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the celebration has been postponed until December. Find out more about the work of the Apostleship of the Sea in supporting seafarers at www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk
Climate Action Durham is a group that aims to encourage participation by the whole community in actively reducing the carbon footprint of Durham City, and to raise awareness of the importance of the climate emergency. Find out more at www.climateactiondurham.co.uk
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.
This is offered online every Sunday at 10am. You can register via the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/Education/Children-s-liturgy
This year’s CAFOD North East Team pilgrimage to Holy Island will take place online from 1st–11th July. From 1st July, there will be a daily reflection and prayer from Fr Jim O’Keefe, as well as shared memories of past pilgrimages, videos and stories from our partners around the world, and up to date news about CAFOD’s latest campaigns. At 3pm on Saturday 11th July, Fr Chris Hughes will live-stream a special pilgrimage Mass for us from his parish. We would also love you to share your memories and photographs of being part of a pilgrimage – from anywhere in the world! Email us at email@example.com and tell us your story. The online pilgrimage will be hosted at https://cafodhexhamnewcastle.wordpress.com/
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
Diocesan Justice & Peace Refugee Project is continuing to provide food for destitute asylum seekers, using digital supermarket vouchers. Details of how to contribute are at www.rchdn.org.uk or contact Helen Woodland on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07407 091184.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Though they are saints, they weren’t perfect. Peter was a hotheaded character; he was impulsive and generous, but sometimes unreliable. There was an irony in Jesus’ renaming Simon as ‘the Rock.’ In today’s Gospel, Peter makes a bold statement of his faith in Jesus: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ But on the night that Jesus was arrested, Peter, afraid for his own life, denied even knowing his friend. He would reproach himself for his betrayal for the rest of his days. But Jesus forgave Peter, and told him, ‘Feed my sheep’ – take care of the disciples.
Peter was an ordinary working man, a fisherman. Paul was more educated; he had been trained as a rabbi, and had studied the Scriptures and philosophy. Paul, too, could be hot-tempered and outspoken. Peter became the leader of the early Church, while Paul was the first great teacher and missionary. But it was a bumpy road. We read in the New Testament of the arguments between Paul and Peter, as the faith spread and the Church grew.
What Peter and Paul had in common was that their encounter with Jesus changed their lives. Peter was one of the first disciples to be called. The call of Paul happened on the road to Damascus. For each of them, once they had met the Lord, there was no going back. Both apostles gave their lives for the faith; they were martyred in Rome at the time of the Emperor Nero.
To be a Christian is to put our faith in Jesus, as Peter and Paul did; to say with Peter, ‘You are the Christ.’ Once we have made our act of faith, there is no going back for us. We will face challenges and we will sin. But, just as the Lord did great things through the apostles, now he wants us to play our part in building his Church.
The following churches in our Partnership will be the first to open, when possible, for limited hours for private prayer:
St Godric’s, Durham
Ss Joseph, Patrick & Cuthbert, Coxhoe
St Joseph’s, Ushaw Moor
The hours of opening for each church will be announced. Before reopening, a risk assessment and a deep clean will be carried out for each church, and churches will be cleaned after each day of opening. The number of people allowed to enter the church will be restricted, to comply with social distancing rules.
Volunteers are needed to clean the church, and to act as stewards to ensure social distancing while the church is open. The Diocesan Handbook for the Reopening of Churches stipulates that:
‘Stewards and cleaners must not be drawn from the clinically extremely vulnerable group who are shielding. Those in the clinically vulnerable group, including people aged 70 or over, could be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. The clinically vulnerable group are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household or support bubble. Those from this group who still wish to volunteer will be asked to confirm that they have read and understood the Diocesan Handbook for Re- Opening of Churches and HM Government Guidance on Staying alert and safe (social distancing.)’
If, having considered this information, you wish to volunteer to assist with the reopening of churches, you can do so in any of the churches of our Partnership which are opening. To volunteer, please contact Fr Andrew on email@example.com or 0191 384 3442.
The call to be a prophet is not an optional extra for Christians. It is at the heart of our baptismal vocation. Jesus tells his disciples to ‘proclaim from the housetops’ the teaching that they have heard from him, and to be ready to ‘declare themselves for him.’
The prophet’s calling could be dangerous and costly. Jeremiah continued to speak the Word of God, even when his message was rejected; even when he was ridiculed, rejected by his friends and, in the end, thrown into a prison cell. Jeremiah trusted completely in God’s care for him.
Jesus himself did not flinch from speaking out, though he knew that to do so would bring him into conflict with the authorities and lead him to the Cross. The first disciples understood clearly the cost of following Christ. Many of the early Christians gave their lives for the faith, and the witness of their martyrdom became a sign that drew others to the Church.
We too are called to be prophets. By our baptism, we have a mandate to declare ourselves for Christ, to stand up for truth and justice, and to denounce injustice and structural sin, wherever it is found. The injustices of our day are different to those of the Lord’s time, but the call to stand with those who are poor, oppressed or marginalised is the same. It takes some courage to proclaim our faith and values, but God is with us. Every hair on our heads has been counted.