Christ the King – 23rd November 2014

Dear Parishioners,

Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, who reigns over Heaven and earth. But does He reign in our hearts? Or does He seem a distant Person whom we hope to meet one day in Heaven? Do we experience the new spiritual life He gave us in Baptism? On Sunday night we begin a week-long Parish Mission. Everyone is invited to come closer to Jesus during this week, letting the Lord himself speak to us through his Word, and asking Him to renew and enliven all the gifts and graces He has already given us in Baptism and in Confirmation. He wants to do this for us! We merely have to respond to Him and his invitation to know Him personally and intimately. Our relationship with the Lord is more important than any other. Take this opportunity to be with Him this week, so that you will really be able to celebrate His birth at Christmas. This is a great opportunity not only to receive special spiritual blessings for you and your family, but to pre-pare your heart for this coming Advent. The mission will be led by Barbara Ma-son, who has given retreats, missions, talks all around the world and has a number of catholic publications to her name. Ideally please come to all the nights of the mission but if your time is pressured please don’t be afraid to attend one or two.

  • Please bring a Bible.
  • We will meet in St Michael and St John’s parish hall from 7.30 – 9pm, Sunday 23 Nov. through Friday 28 Nov. except on Wednesday and Friday when we will be in St Michael and St John’s Church.

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’ (Pope Paul VI). The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms” (EG, no. 3). Pope Francis from ‘Joy of the Gospel’

Fr Frankie

3rd Sunday of Easter – 4th May 2014

Dear Parishioners

During a recent homily based on the Gospel of Nicodemus meeting Jesus at night, Pope Francis proposed three marks of a “people reborn,” which characterized the early Christian community. He said then as now a Christian community should be characterized by interior unity, witness of Christ, and care of its members.

He spoke of the “rebirth from on high” in the Holy Spirit, who gave life to the first group of “new Christians” “They had one heart and mind,” the Pope said, and so were a community in peace. “This means that in this community there was no room for gossip, envy, calumnies, defamation. Rather peace and forgiveness: ‘Love covered everything.'”

Francis stressed the importance of today’s Christians’ attitudes: “Are they meek, humble? Do they vie for power between each other in their community? Are there envious quarrels? Is there gossip? [Then] they are not on the path of Jesus Christ. This feature is so important, so important, because the devil always tries to divide us. He is the father of division.”
But he also recognised that problems existed even for the first Christians. He recalled “the infighting, the doctrinal struggles, power struggles.” As an example of this he pointed to the widows who complained of a lack of assistance so that the Apostles “had to create deacons.”

Pope Francis proposed a reflection for today’s Christian communities: “Does this community give witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does this parish, this community, this diocese really believe that Jesus Christ is Risen?”

He went on to describe the third characteristic which measures the life of a Christian community: their care for the poor. “What is your attitude or the attitude of this community toward the poor?” he asked. “Second, is this community poor? Poor in heart, poor in spirit? Or does it place its trust in riches, in power?”

“Harmony, witness, poverty and care for the poor. This is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus: This comes from above. Because the only one who can do this is the Holy Spirit,” the Pope concluded. “This is the work of the Spirit. The Church is built up by the Spirit. The Spirit creates unity. The Spirit leads us to witness. The Spirit makes us poor, because He is our wealth and leads us to care for the poor.”

Fr John

2nd Sunday of Easter – 27th April 2014

Dear Parishioners

During the Easter Vigil, in the darkness of Easter night, Brent, Rebecca and Benjamin Kelly, and Lauren Bate were baptised and Thomas Clay was received into the Church. We welcome them most warmly to Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Community and pray that they will be ever faithful to the Lord who has chosen them.

RCIA reconvenes this Thursday at 8pm.

On the Tuesday of Holy Week there was a splendid attendance in Sabden to discuss matters relating to the Sabden community. After a fruitful and frank discussion it was decided that the Friday Mass should move from Friday to Wednesday morning at the usual time of 9.15 and that to satisfy the requirements both of the Diocesan Religious Education Syllabus and the National Curriculum there will be a school Mass once a month instead of weekly. This new arrangement commences a week on Wednesday, 7th May, at 9.15 with a school Mass.

The future of St Mary’s Community Centre was also dis-cussed and it was agreed that a committee should be formed to oversee every aspect of the running of the Centre. As St Mary’s is a part of the parish it was decided that parishioners in Clitheroe as well as Sabden are eligible for nomination to the committee. Next Sunday, boxes will be placed in both churches for nominations. Please remember that if you wish to nominate someone then you must first ask their permission. Parishioners wishing to join the committee may nominate themselves.

Finally it was determined to begin fundraising to replace the somewhat tired and bashed Christmas Crib figures.

Pope John Paul II nominated the 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday to emphasise the overwhelming and unfailing love of Jesus Christ for each and every one of us. So Pope Francis has chosen this day to declare as Saints both Pope John XXIII (Good Pope John as he was popularly acclaimed) and Pope John II. (The Pope doesn’t make saints! After a careful examination of their lives and an acknowledged miracle he declares that the Church is convinced that they are with God).

Finally back to the mundane: Social Centre Committee meet on Tuesday in the Presbytery at 7.30pm.

Fr John

Fifth Sunday of Lent – 6 April 2014

Dear Parishioners

The Parish Forum meets on Wednesday in the Social Centre at 7.30pm.

Parish Forum is our parish council, though it differs to most parish councils in that meetings are open to any parishioner who wishes to attend. All who attend have the right to speak and to vote. Minutes are published on the notice board and are emailed to those who leave their e-addresses.

Forum offers me the opportunity to report on past and future events, to seek advice, to listen to new ideas and to receive complaints. For parishioners it is your opportunity to own your parish. Reports are also received from various parish committees and organisations. Invariably there is a full agenda but the Chair does endeavour to ensure that we finish by 9pm for tea and biscuits. This Wednesday, among others, we shall receive reports on last year’s accounts from the Finance Committee and a progress report on the Parish Centre in addition to planning forthcoming summer events. So, do come along and be your Parish Forum.

One thing that we must begin to discuss is Evangelisation – a word that makes us want to run a hundred miles away but which basically means: faith sharing. The following is an extract from a speech made by Pope Francis in June last year.

“I want to tell you something. There is a beautiful passage of the Gospel which tells us about the shepherd who realized that one sheep was missing. He left the ninety-nine others and went in search of it. He went off to look for one! But brothers and sisters, we have only one sheep; we have lost the other ninety-nine! ‘We must go out, we must go out to them! In this culture – let us tell the truth – we only have one; we are a minority! And do we feel the fervour, the apostolic zeal to go out and find the other ninety-nine? This is an enormous responsibility and we must ask the Lord for the grace of generosity, and the courage and patience to go out, to go out and preach the Gospel. Ah, this is difficult. It is easier to stay at home, with that one sheep! It is easier with that sheep to comb its fleece, to stroke it. But we priests and you Christians too, everyone, the Lord wants us to be shepherds, he does not want us to fuss with combing fleeces. Shepherds!

Fr John

Fourth Sunday of Lent – 30 March 2014

Dear fellow Parishioners

St Mary’s community hall in Sabden was recently transformed into a theatre for a production of “Jack and the Beanstalk” by Sabden’s panto group, the New Village Folk. So now we have a facility which is suitable for all kinds of amateur dramatics, shows or concerts.

The group, which was founded in 2006, used to be based at St Nicholas’s Church Hall but recent renovations made it impractical to stage productions and the panto group had to move out.

Fortunately St Mary’s gave the New Village Folk a warm welcome and as many of the group are connected with the church and every member except one lives in Sabden, it was good to find a new home in the village and be able to carry on performing.

But we did have a job on our hands. St Mary’s stage is quite small and only had access at one side. There was no stage lighting or sound facilities, and no access to the toilets from the top room which had to serve as a backstage dressing room.

Fr John gave us permission to install new wiring and fit the hall with stage lights, all round sound and speakers and stage microphones (as long as we paid for it!).

The next challenge was to board out the stage and make a passage along the back to allow access at both sides. We finished off by having new curtains made to carefully match the hall’s decor. The Village Folk spent around £1,000 on these and the result is a hall fit to stage any type of amateur dramatics or concerts.

We didn’t manage to build any backstage toilet facilities, but got around the problem by hiring mobile loos for the cast for the duration of the show! We also paid £500 in total to hire  the hall for rehearsals and four performances. In addition the group is making a £1,000 donation to St Mary’s towards the ongoing upkeep of the community hall. And Fr Frankie is hoping that no-one claims the £50 lucky programme prize as we will donate it to his favourite charity, Mary’s Meals.

The four performances of “Jack and the Beanstalk” were a sell out and received lots of wonderful comments and reviews from audiences, which we were pleased to see included many of our friends from SS Michael and John’s.

The Village Folk is happy to be connected with St Mary’s and already planning our next panto early next year.

Margaret Parsons

Third Sunday of Lent – 23 March 2014

Dear Parishioners,

The following is an abbreviated extract from a recent homily of Pope Francis.

Through the Sacraments of Christian initiation — Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist – we receive new life in Christ. Now we have this life “in earthen vessels”, we are still subject to temptation, to suffering, to death and, because of sin, we can even lose this new life. This is why the Lord Jesus wished His Church to continue His work of salvation, in particular with the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that of the Anointing of the Sick, which can be united under the name of “Sacraments of Healing”. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when I go to confess, it is to heal myself, to heal my soul and to heal my heart. The biblical icon that expresses best their profound bond is the episode of the forgiveness and healing of the paralytic, where the Lord Jesus reveals himself at the same time as doctor of souls and of bodies.

At Easter the Lord appeared to the disciples and after greeting them, “Peace be with you,” he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven”. This passage reveals to us the most profound dynamic that is contained in this Sacrament. First of all, the fact is that the forgiveness of our sins is not something that we can give ourselves. I cannot say: I forgive my sins. Forgiveness is asked, it is asked of another and in Confession we ask for forgiveness from Jesus. Forgiveness is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who fills us with the purification of mercy and grace which flows incessantly from the wide open heart of Christ crucified and risen. In the second place, it reminds us that only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled in the Lord Jesus can we really be in peace. Pope Francis then explained that Reconciliation is a communal exercise because the Holy Spirit works within the community and also because sin has a social dimension, it destroys trust and relationships. “One may say: I only confess with God. Yes, you can say to God “forgive me” and say your sins, but our sins are also against others and the community of the Church. For this it is necessary to ask forgiveness from the community in the person of the priest. “But Father, I am ashamed….” Well, even shame does us well, because it makes us more humble, and when Confession is ended, one feels free, great, beautiful.

When was the last time that I confessed? If a long time has passed, don’t miss another day, go. Jesus is there, and he receives you with so much love. Be courageous and go to Confession! Dear friends, to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation is to be wrapped in a warm embrace: it is the embrace of the infinite mercy of the Father.

Fr John

Second Sunday of Lent – 16 March 2014

Dear Parishioners

There was an air of celebration in Salford Cathedral last Sunday when, Bishop Brain welcomed five parishioners together with the Elect and Catechumens from around Salford diocese who are completing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and will be received into the Church at Easter. The Elect are those who will be baptised, their title indicating that it is God who has called them, who has elected them, to seek Baptism and join the family of God. Catechumens are those who have already been baptised in another Church but who now wish to join the Catholic community. Our elect are Brent, Becky and Benjamin Kelly and Lauren Bate who with catechumen Tom Clay will be baptised and received into the Church during the Easter Vigil service next month.

This week in an important week for our children in both Clitheroe and Sabden who will receive the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. (First Confessions as we oldies knew it) Parishioners, family and friends are encouraged to come along to both offer their support and also take this opportunity to experience God’s love, mercy and reconciliation for themselves. The service begins in St Mary’s Sabden at 7pm on Tuesday and at 7.30pm in St Michael and St John’s on Wednesday.

Please do remember to pray for Fr Peter Birmingham who began a course of chemotherapy last Friday. He is unable to receive visitors but has received many cards and assurances of prayer.

The Pro-Life Committee met this week and arranged the dates for two important annual events. The first is the Day of prayer which will be in three weeks on Saturday 5th April beginning with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 9am and continuing until the evening Mass. There is ‘watching list’ at the back of the church for you to sign and so ensure that there are at least two or three people in church throughout the day. The watching slots are only half an hour, so please do consider during Lent giving a half hour to the Lord. There was a cohort of parishioners who could be relied on in the past but many have now become housebound or have gone to the Lord – people such as Peter and Teresa Tomlinson, to mention only two!

The second event is the Right to Life sponsored Walk on which we are joined by Lord David Alton and some MPs. It will take place on the Spring Bank Holiday, 26th May.

Fr John

First Sunday of Lent – 9 March 2014

Dear Parishioners

Lent has begun but have you? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Buy (£1) the ‘Walk With Me’ booklet which will help you pray and reflect on each day of Lent.
  • Join the Stations of the Cross in Clitheroe at 7.30pm on Fridays and in Sabden at 7.30pm on Tuesdays.
  • Spend a little time each day reading the Bible in the quiet of your home.
  • Attend daily Mass. (Details weekly in the newsletter)
  • Come to Exposition on Saturday mornings between 11am and 12 noon.
  • Pay a visit the church which is open daily during daylight hours
  • Encourage someone who has been away from Mass to return to practice and accompany them to church.
  • Recite the Rosary at home or join the weekday recitation in church at 9.30am.
  • Is there someone you know in need of help or friendship or maybe an elderly relative you haven’t visited for a while?
  • Make up a longstanding quarrel.
  • Help to clean the church on Monday mornings at 9.30.
  • Give up a favourite treat like sweets, drink, watching too much TV or cigarettes.
  • Keep ‘Family Fast day’ on Friday.
  • Every Friday abstain from eating meat for your spiritual good and that of the planet!
  • Make a clean sweep. How long is it since you made use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)? Confession is available every Saturday in Clitheroe from 11 to 11.45 and during the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
  • Attend the series of Lenten talks “The Church at the Crossroads” on Saturday mornings in the Hall at 11am. (Coffee from 10.30)
  • Join with Fr Frankie on Wednesdays at 7.30 in the Hall to look at Pope Francis’ recent letter ‘The Joy of the Gospel’.
  • For the first time the Deanery has organised four Lenten Station Masses. Join the first at St Mary’s Langho on Wednesday at 7.30pm.

Wishing you a fruitful Lent!

Fr John

Lent 2014

Two suggestions to make this Lent a time of spiritual growth. As you probably know Pope Francis has written an important letter to the church called Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel, that provides a roadmap for this papacy. Lent offers an opportunity to reflect on this document.

Beginning a week on Wednesday, 12th March at 7.30pm and for the following five Wednesdays in the hall, there is a presentation of the letter’s major themes with a short video and discussion, organised by Elsie and led by Fr Frankie. Do make an effort to attend at least some of these sessions.

A Lenten Journey of Prayer, Walk with me, that daily provides a short quotation from Pope Francis’ letter a Scripture quotation, reflection and a prayer is available at the back, it costs £1.

This year the Deanery is introducing Lenten Station Masses. Full details on notice board. Do try and attend at least the nearest Mass at St Mary’s Langho. The first of this year’s Lent talks will be on Saturday 15th March in our Parish Hall. ‘The church at the crossroads’ with Dr Robert Pierce, a Christian GP who examines the health of the church from a personal perspective. The talk commences at 11am and concludes at 12noon. Coffee will be served from 10.30am.


Deanery Stations Mass Programme

Clitheroe churches in parnership lenten programme