Congratulations to Tierney, Norman, Faye, Kate and Philip, who were received into the Church last Sunday. Please pray for Jerome and Jonathan, who will be received next Sunday, and for Julia, who will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Missio is the Pope’s charity for world mission and is perhaps best known for their red boxes in support of the missions. They invite you to join them online to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si. We will hear from missionaries about the initiatives their communities are involved in which care for our common home and how their missionary role is connected to caring for creation. The meeting will be on Zoom, with the opportunity to join in on Tuesday 15 September at 6pm – the meeting will last between 60 and 90 minutes. If you would like to attend, please register in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7821 9755. You will then receive clear instructions as to how to join your selected session.
We are delighted to have received an invitation from the Columbans in Britain to join a virtual encounter with Marjorie Engcoy, a Columban Lay Missionary from the Philippines assigned to Fiji.
This event will happen on Zoom on WEDNESDAY 16th SEPTEMBER 2020 at 19:00, and is open to everyone.
Before joining the Missionary Society of St. Columban, Marjorie was an English teacher for five years. Growing up she met a number of Columban missionaries; priests, nuns, and lay. Their presence in her community helped to ignite her desire to become a lay missionary and establish her personal relationship with God. In mission, she has been involved in various different ministries such as youth, children, women, liturgy, evangelisation, leadership and JPIC. Marjorie looks forward to explaining some of these ministries in more detail and how through her mission work overseas she has experienced God’s love and His promise; “I will be with you, always.”
The webinar will include prayer, a short introduction and then time for questions. You will need a laptop, tablet or phone and a good internet connection. To take part, please register your interest here: http://tiny.cc/MeetaColumbanMissionary
When someone has hurt or offended us, our first response is to feel angry and resentful. We naturally want to get our own back. We may look for a way to attack the one who has wronged us.
Jesus teaches his disciples a different way of dealing with conflict. He reminds us that the person who has harmed us is still our brother or sister. The Christian way to resolve a disagreement is to begin a conversation, where we are ready to listen, to hear the other side of the story and seek reconciliation. With this teaching, Jesus is looking forward to the Church community that will exist after his death and resurrection. A conflict between members is a wound to the whole community, and the community is involved in resolving the conflict. Even if it becomes necessary to exclude a member from the community – to treat them ‘like a pagan or tax collector’ – this is meant to be a remedy that will bring the offender back to their senses, and back to taking a full part in the life of the Church. No one should be excluded permanently. The Church should be a witness to the world of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
This is a challenging teaching. Jesus calls his disciples to speak out against injustice, but to speak in a spirit of love and dialogue. It’s much easier to get angry, to ignore the person who has offended us, or to talk about them behind their back. But Jesus himself was willing to engage with everyone, including pagans, tax collectors and sinners. He asks us to follow his example.
The Diocese has decided for reasons of cost and logistics in these strange times not to prepare printed Gift Aid statements for all donors for the year ending 31 March 2020. If you need confirmation of the total of your donations, please contact the Diocesan Gift Aid office (email@example.com) and they can provide the information on an individual basis.
Many of the world’s poorest nations are not only dealing with this health emergency but are also facing unimaginable financial hardship as a result of the global economic slowdown. The quickest way to deal with this worrying financial outlook is to keep money in developing countries by cancelling debt payments now. CAFOD is calling on world leaders, who will be gathering in October at World Bank and IMF Meetings, to Cancel the Debt. Details at www.cafod.org.uk
Helping Hands is a charity based in Adhanur, a village in Tamil Nadu State in India. The charity runs a home for 40 orphans and supports them and Dalit (low caste) families in their education and training for future employment. It was St Cuthbert’s overseas charity for 2018-19, and is supported by Durham Martyrs parish. At present, Helping Hands is in great difficulties. Their regular income has dried up because of the pandemic, and they are dependent on credit to meet the food and fuel bill for the home, which comes to about £840 per month. If you can give any support to Helping Hands, please send donations to St Cuthbert’s, and they will be forwarded to the charity in India.
The Diocese is a strategic partner of TWC, which seeks to support the common good and develop civic society and its members. TWC operates on a cycle of listening action and evaluation. More information about the work of TWC at www.rcdhn.org.uk under ‘Justice & Peace.’
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.
Last week, Peter made his great profession of faith in Jesus; ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and he was given the role of leading the Church. But this week, Jesus denounces Peter as ‘Satan’ and as an obstacle or ‘stumbling block’ in Jesus’ path. Why the sudden change of tone? Because Jesus has begun to spell out to his disciples the cost of his mission. Jesus is absolutely faithful to the will of God the Father, and he knows that this will lead him to Jerusalem, to condemnation and to death on the Cross. He is prepared to pay the price; to offer himself as a living sacrifice, in obedience to the Father’s will. Peter, naturally, doesn’t want to see his friend suffer in this way, and so he objects. But in reply, Jesus tells Peter that he is stuck in human ways of thinking.
Today’s First Reading reminds us that the prophets of Israel always paid a price for speaking the Word of God. The prophet Jeremiah was imprisoned for speaking out against the rulers of the nation. Jeremiah laments the ridicule and humiliation that he has suffered, but he doesn’t stop preaching. God’s call is one that cannot be ignored.
It can be uncomfortable to be a Christian. The Lord asks us to take up our cross, whatever it is, and to follow him faithfully. He calls us to give up human thinking, and embrace the wisdom of the Cross. And he promises us the greatest reward of all; eternal life with him.
The months of pandemic have seen more change to the way that Christians worship than the passage of many centuries.
• What does this crisis say to leaders of liturgy?
• How might we pray as a church?
• Where do we go from here?
• Do we resume or renew?
These are the key questions that a small group of liturgists and theologians are going to examine in a series of six conversations on Zoom. If you would like to participate, contact email@example.com for the link. The conversations will take place on Mondays at 7.00pm, beginning on 14th September with: Can you send an apple by email? The difference between on-line and physical liturgy, with Dr Francisca Rumsey and Prof Tom O’Loughlin.
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.
The Parish Office is closed until further notice. Ciara is working from home, and can be contacted on email@example.com 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.
Simon Peter recognises Jesus as the Christ – the Messiah – God’s anointed one, and the Son of the living God. It’s a powerful act of faith, made possible by God’s grace. In response, Jesus calls him to leadership of the Church that will continue to proclaim the Good News, after the Lord’s death and resurrection. With this call comes a change of name; Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which the Church will be built. Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom – the power to teach and to forgive sins in God’s name.
The First Reading gives us an insight into how leadership should be exercised. Shebna was a powerful official in the palace of the King of Israel. The prophet Isaiah warns Shebna that, because he has used his position for his own advantage, he will be dismissed from his office and stripped of his privileges. The Christian leader should always be a servant of God’s people.
As we know, Peter was an imperfect disciple and an imperfect leader. He often misunderstood Jesus’ teaching, and his faith failed him at the crucial moment. Yet the Lord chose Peter as his instrument to build up the Church. The Lord chooses us, too, to play our part in his Church, and he gives us the graces we need to respond to his call.
The hope of all Christians is that, by God’s mercy, we will enjoy eternal life with God; our whole selves, body and soul, will be taken up into heaven. The salvation that we are promised is the salvation of the whole person. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, has already received this blessing. At the end of Mary’s earthly life, God took her up into heavenly glory, body and soul. Today’s Feast of the Assumption celebrates that special gift.
In today’s Gospel reading, we find Mary as a very young woman, who has just conceived Jesus by God’s power. She celebrates the good news with her cousin Elizabeth, who has also received the miraculous gift of a child. In her hymn of praise, the Magnificat, Mary rejoices in what God has done for her, transforming her life. It will not be an easy road for Mary – a sword of sorrow will pierce her soul, when she sees her Son suffer and die. But she never ceases to trust in God.
In the life of Mary, we see how God’s plan of salvation unfolds. God works through the little ones. The Son of God comes into the world as a child of a poor family. The rich, the powerful and the proud are cast down; the poor and the lowly are raised up. By the power of God, Mary was kept free from original sin; throughout her life, she trusted completely in God; and, at the end of her life, God raised her up. As disciples of Christ, we are called to follow Mary’s example, trusting in God and rejoicing in what God has done for us. By the mercy of God, we too can hope to be raised up, body and soul, to eternal glory.
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