CAFOD Family Fast Day is on Friday 26th February. This year’s theme is Water Poverty; many people around the world lack access to clean, safe water. Find out more at www.cafod.org.uk/fastday
We have a new page on our website, with links to some other websites you may find interesting, including news from the Diocese and the Vatican and prayer resources.
You can find the page here, or on the main menu at the top of this website.
If you’d like to suggest any other links for us to consider adding to the page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest edition of the Finchale Partnership’s newsletter is now available here.
Leprosy is a skin disease that attacks the nerves and muscles. It can cause disability, blindness and disfigurement. In ancient times, there was no cure or treatment for leprosy. The only response was the one described in today’s First Reading from the book of Leviticus. The person suffering from leprosy was declared ‘unclean’ and forced to live outside the community, for the protection of others. Anyone declared a ‘leper’ suffered from terrible isolation, as well as the pain of their disease. No one would touch a leper, for fear of becoming a leper themselves.
This is the situation of the man whom Jesus meets in today’s Gospel. He begs Jesus to heal him. Jesus is filled with compassion for the man, and reaches out to touch him, even though, in doing so, Jesus makes himself unclean in the eyes of the Law. By the power of Jesus’ love, the man is healed. He can go back to his home, his family and his life.
In the past year, the world has been struck by the coronavirus pandemic. As with leprosy in Jesus’ time, medicine has had no answer to this new disease. We have been forced to isolate the sufferers, and isolate ourselves from one another, for fear of infection. Now that the vaccinations have begun, there is hope that life can gradually return to normal. But we must learn the lessons of the pandemic. People who suffer from addiction or mental illness, disability or disfigurement, can feel terribly isolated, and their isolation adds to their suffering. No one is untouchable for Jesus. Who are the people that I don’t want to touch? And where in my life do I need Jesus’ healing touch?
Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday, 17th February. Mass will be celebrated at 12.15 and 7.00pm – please book a place at Mass by emailing email@example.com or telephoning 0191 384 3442. Ashes will be distributed at both Masses without physical contact, in accordance with Bishops’ Conference guidelines. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence.
The Centre for Catholic Studies invites applications for a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant (fixed term 0.5 FTE) in the area of Catholic Studies to assist on the project entitled Boundary Breaking: Ecclesial-cultural Implications of the Sex Abuse Crisis within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Contract duration: until July 2023. Closing date: 17 Feb 2021. Full details at https://durham.taleo.net/careersection/jobdetail.ftl?job=21000031&lang=en
Today’s Gospel reading shows us two sides of Jesus’ mission. When he arrives at the house of Simon and Andrew, and hears that Simon’s mother in law is sick with fever, he goes straight to her and cures her. Thanks to the healing touch of Jesus, she can resume her role in the family. Later in the evening, all the sick and troubled people of the town are brought to Jesus, and he reaches out to them with compassion. No one is turned away. This is Jesus the healer.
But the dawn finds Jesus alone, away from the crowds. In order to carry out his mission, Jesus needs to spend time in prayer, alone with God his Father. By this time of prayer, he ‘recharges his batteries’ and gains strength for his ministry among the people.
When Jesus’ disciples come looking for him, he tells them that he has come to preach. This is the other side of his mission. Mark tells us that Jesus went all through Galilee, preaching the Good News and casting out the devils that tormented them. Preaching and healing go together; one is incomplete without the other. As his disciples, Jesus calls us to follow in his footsteps: to reach out to our neighbours with compassion, and to bring them the Good News that they need to hear.
Acting Out Salvation: Christology and Human Agency. Prof. Mike Higton, Durham University. Thursday 11th February at 5.00pm, online. See Centre for Catholic Studies website for registration.
Gardens, grounds and the Bounds Cafe are open daily 11am-3pm. A lovely spot for a socially distanced walk. https://www.ushaw.org/
Local hospitals are in urgent need of toiletries for the many patients they are currently treating. Please help the NHS by donating: Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Shower Gel, Shampoo, Combs/Brushes, Shaving Cream, Razors and Flannels. Items can be left in the box in the porch at St Cuthbert’s – please do not go to the hospitals.
Thank you for your generosity. £410 has been raised to provide essential items for men and women being released from local prisons. You can donate online to the Winter Bag Appeal at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/winterprisonersbagappeal
The minutes of the latest meeting of the Partnership Development Group are now available here.
In Jesus’ time, there was a widespread belief in demons or unclean spirits. Many people were thought to be possessed by demons. Nowadays, we would probably explain their condition as a mental or physical illness. However we understand it, there’s no doubt about the suffering of those who were ‘possessed.’ They were deprived of health and sanity; they might harm themselves or others. They were cut off from family, friends and community.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus meets a man who is said to be possessed by an unclean spirit. Ironically, although the people don’t yet know who Jesus is, the spirit recognises him immediately as the ‘Holy One of God.’ With a word of command, Jesus drives out the demon and the man is restored to health. The people acknowledge Jesus’ authority. They can see that God’s power is at work in him.
Many people today are struggling with different kinds of ‘demons,’ including mental illness or addiction. They can feel lonely and isolated, trapped by their condition and cut off from family and friends. There are ‘demonic’ realities in the wider world, too; racism, hatred and injustice. We can only overcome them if we put our faith in Christ. Even the demons are afraid of him.
Culture Healing Communities, a local charity, is offering an art project for members of minority groups, to alleviate stress, isolation and loneliness during the pandemic. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Racial Justice Sunday is this Sunday, 31st January. The theme is ‘A Time to Act.’ There will be a retiring collection to support the Church’s work for racial justice. Resources at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/racial-justice-sunday-2021/
St Cuthbert’s Parish Pastoral Council will meet online on Thursday 4th February. If there are any matters that you would like the PPC to discuss, please contact Fr Andrew.
The Long Aggiornamento: Female Religious Life in Britain, 1945-1990. Dr Carmen M. Mangion (Birkbeck, University of London.) Tuesday 2nd February at 6.00pm, online. See Centre for Catholic Studies website for registration.
When Jesus begins his preaching, Mark tells us that his message is: ‘Repent, and believe the Good News.’ The good news that Jesus brings is news of God’s mercy, and the promise of eternal life. There is a sense of urgency. The time has come. John the Baptist has been arrested, and Jesus knows that the same fate could await him. He goes to Galilee and calls the people to repent; to change their hearts and their lives – to turn back to God.
The first disciples whose lives are changed by Jesus are four fishermen; Simon and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John. When Jesus calls them, they leave everything behind to follow him; job, family and home. Jesus tells them that they will ‘fish’ for people instead – they will catch disciples for him.
We too have been called by Jesus to follow him. When we were baptised, we became his disciples. Like Simon and Andrew, James and John, Jesus wants us to be ‘fishers of people’ – to catch disciples for him, witnessing to our Christian faith in word and action. Like the first disciples, Jesus wants us to put him at the centre of our lives. It’s not easy to be a disciple of Christ. It can be costly – the Good News isn’t always welcome. But Jesus is calling us by name. Are we ready to follow him?
This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme is ‘Abiding in Christ.’ Our preacher at both Masses today is Rev Gavin Wort, Coordinating Chaplain at Durham University. Please give him a warm welcome.
Read a message for the Week of Prayer, from Bishop Robert and other leaders of Christian churches in the North, at www.rcdhn.org.uk
‘Be a light in the darkness’ is the theme for 2021’s annual Holocaust memorial day. Holocaust memorial events take place around January 27th, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Camp in 1945. Due to Covid restrictions, the Department for Interreligious Relations are unable to hold the usual annual events. However, an online commemoration will be available from 25th January on the diocesan website, www.rcdhn.org.uk This will include a testimony given by Anita Lasker Wallfisch, who is a survivor of the infamous Auschwitz orchestra. Contributions have also been given by members of The United Hebrew Congregation Synagogue in Newcastle, and Anita’s grandson Simon, a renowned cellist.