31st Sunday in Ordinary time – 4 November 2018

Dear Parishioners,

I’m writing this on Halloween, a contraction of All Hallows eve, the eve of All Saints Day.

So, maybe a few thoughts about the most critical moment of life: Death. Death is life’s moment of truth when we shall see and recognise ourselves for what we are. It is then that God waits to accept us into his infinite loving embrace. Some may fall into God’s arms immediately. For others the embarrassment of fickle, imperfect, vacillating love may prevent an unconditional acceptance of God’s embrace until love is purified and refined. Sadly, some may be so full of hatred and denial of everything good that they turn their face forever away from love, from God. An eternity without love is simply Hell.

On the other hand, Heaven is an endless moment of love. Nothing more separates the saints from the God whom they have sought their life long. Together with the angels they rejoice eternally in and with God. (Observe a couple in love) oblivious to the world as they look into each other’s eyes or a suckling baby looking up to its mother’s face — then you have some inkling of Heaven. To be able to see God face to face is like a single, never-ending moment of love.

Purgatory, often imagined as a place, is actually a condition. One who dies in God’s grace but whose frail and wavering love is in need of purifying of selfishness is in the state we name: Purgatory. After Peter’s betrayal, Jesus looked at him but Peter could only turn in shame to weep bitterly — he withdrew, unable to accept Jesus’ forgiving gaze of love. Just such a purgatory, a purification of love probably awaits most at death — the Lord will look at us full of love but on our side burning shame and remorse for past faithlessness and unloving behaviour will hold us back. Only after purification will our love rush us into God’s loving embrace in untroubled heavenly joy.

We, who are baptized, both the living and the dead, are united in one family, in one communion. So we pray for each other — we ask the saints to intercede for us and in turn we intercede for our dead. Our example is St Thomas More who wrote to his daughter Meg on the night before his execution: “Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you, and for all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven.”

All Saints is the day we praise God for his miracles of grace. All Souls is the day we remember and pray for our departed family and friends.

Fr John

30th Sunday in Ordinary time – 28th October 2018

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend ends the month of October which is the month specially dedicated to Mary and the Rosary. It seems an appropriate time to think about Lourdes. The events in Lourdes took place 160 years ago but they are as relevant today as ever. At the first apparition on 11th February 1858 Bernadette prayed the Rosary with the “beautiful lady”. Mary appeared to Bernadette 18 times, she asked for prayer and penance, she asked Bernadette to tell the priests that people are to come in procession and to build a church and on the 16th apparition she revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception.

Since then Lourdes has been a place of pilgrimage and is visited by people of all religions and from all over the world. It is a place of love and prayer, hope and renewal, equality, compassion and friendship. Each year the Bishop of Lourdes has a theme for pilgrims on which to focus. The theme this year was “Do whatever He tells you”, Mary’s instructions at the Marriage Feast of Cana and in 2019, from the Magnificat, “The Almighty has done great things for me”.

The Salford Diocesan Pilgrimage is let by Bishop John Arnold and for the last four years a small group from our parish has joined the Diocese. The week is a very special experience, as well as spiritually renewing; it is a week of fun, laughter and tears and a great sense of belonging to the Diocesan family. The sick are at the centre of the pilgrimage and are cared for by many volunteers of all ages. The liturgies are beautifully planned and there is time for quiet, private prayer, for socialising in the many bars and cafe, for shopping and to visit other places.

If you would like to know more about the pilgrimage or are considering coming in 2019 there will be a meeting in the presbytery on Monday November 21st at 7pm when we will talk about the week’s activities and organisation, travel and cost. Please come if you are interested, there will no commitment.”

Margaret Donnelly (2018 group co-ordinator)

 

SVP – Help needed

S.V.P.  Help needed.  From time to time the SVP need use of a van to transport items of furniture to people’s houses and wondered if any parishioner may be able to help us when needed.  We are also looking for a microwave, a kettle and a toaster for a young single parent.  If anyone could help with any of this, please ring Peter on 01200 441081 or speak to any SVP member.  Thank you.

29th Sunday in Ordinary time – 21st October 2018

URGENT RESPONSE

Asia Bibi a Roman Catholic woman on death row in Pakistan has made a direct appeal to Christians in the UK, urging them to pray for her. This message was conveyed by her husband, Ashiq Bibi, who has travelled to the UK to highlight the plight of his wife. He emphasised that his wife had been imprisoned since 2009, but she has always said that Jesus is her life and despite the pressures will never deny her faith.

She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010 after being accused by two women of insulting the prophet Mohammed.  The accusation was made five days after the women rowed with Asia because she had taken water from a common water supply which they said was for muslims alone. Asia Bibi is just one example of how blasphemy laws in Pakistan have been misused to settle personal vendettas.

The subsequent legal battle has led to protests and to the assassination of two politicians who publicly defended her.

The Supreme Court in Pakistan is due to rule on an appeal against Asia’s death sentence. An announcement planned for last Monday has been postponed without a reason being given. Please remember to pray for Asia and her family and consider writing to Imran Khan, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan to plead for her life and her freedom.

The text below may help you to write a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, but please do not simply rip this page off and send it to him, that would be totally counter productive and preferably you should use your own words.

 

Prime Minister Imran Khan, P.M Secretariat, Constitution Avenue, G-5/2,

Islamabad, Pakistan

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to express my concern for a Asia Bibi, a citizen of Pakistan who is in jail in your country for alleged blasphemy. She has now been in jail for some 9 years with the death penalty hanging over her for an action which, even if true, surely does not merit the death penalty. In any case, a long imprisonment is more than sufficient punishment. Furthermore, the evidence that she committed this crime is questioned by very many.

We are all encouraged to show our belief in the mercy of God in our actions. I would humbly ask that mercy is shown to Asia Bibi, and that you use your best efforts to secure her release from prison

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

(signed etc)

28th Sunday in Ordinary time – 14th October 2018

My hand, Your hand, Our hands

As you know, Bishop John, inspired by Pope Francis in “Evangelli Gaudium” has launched the Hope in the Future programme in the Salford Diocese. He encourages all parishes to take up the challenge to develop Missionary parishes.

We have followed the programme here and held three meetings during Lent in each church of our parish to reflect on and plan how we could move forward. Meeting 2 looked at how we might harvest the many gifts and talents in our large parish. Only through working together and looking outward can we become a Missionary Parish.

As you leave church today you will be offered a pack consisting of a parish information booklet, a leaflet for you to complete indicating any interest you may have and an envelope in which to return the leaflet to Fr. John. Please return to the presbytery or in the collection plate by Sunday 18th November.

We hope that every adult will find at least one group that interests them so that all can take up the challenge of the Gospel.

Your information will be treated in line with the Data protection Act.

The Missionary Steering Team

27th Sunday in Ordinary time – 7th October 2018

Our Lady of the Valley Parish piloted Refugee Dine With Me some two years ago as a simple response to the world refugee crisis and Pope Frances’s plea to the world to “Welcome the stranger”.This is something simple that anyone can do – invite a refugee family for a meal.

The results were very positive, for both ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’. Since then, with the support of Caritas Salford, a “Toolkit” has been devised and published on line and in booklet form, so that any Parish or community group can make the idea work in their community. The Toolkit includes lots of tips and advice for families looking to take part. You can find it online at https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/service-view/refugee-dine-with-me

It has now been taken up by other Parishes and indeed schools in the Salford Diocese.

In the introduction to the booklet, Bishop John Arnold himself says: “It is a very simple but effective way of welcoming people into our parishes who have left their homes and families to seek refuge and safety amongst us. When people sit together to share a meal, especially people from different cultures and life experiences, there is an opportunity to share more than just food. They create what Pope Francis has called a ‘culture of encounter.’ In accepting to share a meal together, both host and guest are opening themselves to a very human encounter that breaks down barriers and builds new friendships.”

We are now bringing the idea back to our Parish. As well as the small number of refugees and asylum seekers living in our Parish who come to the Clitheroe English Club classes to learn English, we have teamed up with New Neighbours in Burnley, a charity run by volunteers and the refugees themselves, which supports refugees and asylum seekers, and which is based in St. John the Baptist RC Church Hall. They will help identify guests interested in taking part.

If you are interested in participating, please take the leaflet and fill in the form, copies of which are at the back of Church, or download it from the OLOV website. If you have any queries on how it works, contact Tom Clay on 07962136749.

As individuals, we can do so little, but we can at least make people who have been through so much feel welcome to our country, and what better way to do this than invite them to our homes for a meal!

26th Sunday in Ordinary time – 30th September 2018

The S.V.P. in Our Lady of the Valley

Annually, September is designated as an awareness month for the St. Vincent de Paul Society and you will have noticed posters on the church pillars showing aspects of our work. Each year we give parishioners information about our work and how we allocate our funds which parishioners have kindly donated through the quarterly collections.

At present we have 22 active members who meet weekly on Tuesday evenings at 7pm. The purpose of these meetings is to pray together and to plan our work.

The S.V.P. gives its members the opportunity to address the two great commandments: love of God and love of neighbour. Membership is a vocation, a calling to serve Christ in his poor. It enables us, with all our weaknesses and struggles to serve those most in need and in serving, to grow and become spiritually enriched. In this ever changing world, with poverty increasing in a multitude of different guises, the demands and opportunities for service are many and varied.

Since last March, members have put in 3500, hours visiting people in hospital, in residential homes and in their own homes. They have transported people to medical appointments, Sunday Mass and Masses of healing and have supported 30 or more families both financially and practically. Our total income for the financial year was £5,255 and we would like to thank again all who have contributed for your great generosity. A report on how this money has been distributed will be given out after Mass. We have also used funds from a legacy to send two families of five on a short holiday this summer, something which they would have been unable to do.

We would like you to let us know if you are aware of anyone who needs help or support. Our work is confidential and all members are DBS checked.

Please consider joining us to help put the words of Jesus into practise. “I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.” All you need is to be able to offer some time and love.

For more information please contact Peter on 01200 441081 or speak to any SVP member. Thank you for all your help and support.

SVP Conference Members

 

25th Sunday in Ordinary time – 23rd September 2018

Dear Parishioners,
An extract from Pope Francis speaking with recently married couples in Dublin.

Nowadays we are not used to anything that really lasts for the whole of our lives. If I feel hungry or thirsty, I can eat; but my feeling of being full does not last even a day. If I have a job, I know that I might lose it or I may have to choose a different career. It is even hard to keep track of the world as it changes all around us, as people come and go in our lives, as promises are made but often broken or left unfulfilled. Perhaps what you are really asking me is something even more basic: Is there anything precious that endures at all? Even love itself? We know how easy it is today to find ourselves caught up in “the culture of the provisional”, the ephemeral. That culture strikes at the very roots of our growth in hope and love. How can we experience “the truly lasting” in this culture of the ephemeral?

Here is what I would say to you. Of all the kinds of human fruitfulness, marriage is unique. It is about a love that gives rise to new life. It involves mutual responsibility for the transmission of God’s gift of life, and it provides a stable environment in which that new life can grow and flourish. Marriage in the Church, that is, the sacrament of matrimony, shares in a special way in the mystery of God’s eternal love. When a Christian man and a woman enter into the bond of marriage, the Lord’s grace enables them freely to promise one another an exclusive and enduring love. Their union thus becomes a sacramental sign of the new and eternal covenant between the Lord and his bride, the Church. Jesus is ever present in their midst. He sustains them throughout life in their mutual gift of self, in fidelity and in indissoluble unity. His love is a rock and a refuge in times of trial, but more importantly, a source of constant growth in pure and lasting love.

We know that love is God’s dream for us and for the whole human family. Please, never forget this! God has a dream for us and he asks us to make it our own. So do not be afraid of that dream! Cherish it and dream it together each day anew. In this way, you will be able to support one another with hope, strength, and forgiveness at those moments when the path grows rocky and it becomes hard to see the road ahead. God binds himself to remain faithful to his covenant, even when we grieve him or grow weak in our love. He tells us: “I will never fail you nor forsake you!” (Heb 13:5). As husband and wife, anoint one another with those words of promise, every day for the rest of your lives. And never stop dreaming!

Fr John

 

24th Sunday in Ordinary time – 16th September 2018 (Home Mission Sunday)

HOME MISSION SUNDAY

In today’s Gospel Jesus presents us, as disciples, with a challenging question, ‘Who do you say I am?
For some the most challenging element of this question is whether we talk about him at all.  Today on Home Mission Sunday we pray for the spread of the Gospel in our own towns and villages and country.

There is a second collection as you leave church which will be used to help Catholics in England and Wales become more confident in sharing their faith, particularly by training and supporting diocesan evangelisation personnel and programmes.