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The Promise is fulfilled.

‘The days are coming’, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made…’ Jeremiah 33:14

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Commentary:

A promise, kept or broken, is a very important piece in the mosaic of relationships.

It evokes expectation in the heart of the one who receives it, because a promise is grounded in trust.

Trust, hope, expectancy, are the foundation and bedrock of the lives of a pilgrim people. In setting out on our journey to the Kingdom, we commit ourselves to a lifetime Advent, for on the way, we will meet our own hungers and thirst…our own deserts. We will come face-to-face with desire and disappointment. But, with promise in our ‘travel bag’, we have the courage to strain forward toward fulfilment, the Journey’s end.

Jeremiah is a man of promise. He is an instrument of hope and fulfilment. Reluctant to speak the name of the Lord, it was his trust in the promise of God that enabled him to loosen his grasp on self-concern and become the utterance of God.

We too, can trust in the Promise – the faithful love of God. We too, can become prophets and instruments of love, hope and justice in the world. The days are here. The time is now. The promise is fulfilled.

(Commentary is from an unknown source. This reflection was part of an Advent service we attended)

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Sacred Silence, Gentle water –

Tom Booth- Catholic Christian contemporary musician at http://www.spiritandsong.com/podcasts/series/commons/archive

Pope Francis shares good counsel

Beautiful teaching from our Papa on Good Counsel. A must-read. (Full article teaching here.)

holy-spirit-rotator

image@www.advisorswithpurpose.ca

Spiritual nurture from the Holy Father

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

We heard in the Reading of the passage from the Book of Psalms: “the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (Ps 16[15]:7). This is another gift of the Holy Spirit: the gift of counsel. We know how important it is in the most delicate moments to be able to count on the advice of people who are wise and who love us. Now, through the gift of counsel, it is God himself, through his spirit, who enlightens our heart so as to make us understand the right way to speak and to behave and the way to follow. But how does this gift work in us?

1. When we receive and welcome him into our heart, the Holy Spirit immediately begins to make us sensitive to his voice and to guide our thoughts, our feelings and our intentions according to the heart of God. At the same time, he leads us more and more to turn our interior gaze to Jesus, as the model of our way of acting and of relating with God the Father and with the brethren. Counsel, then, is the gift through which the Holy Spirit enables our conscience to make a concrete choice in communion with God, according to the logic of Jesus and his Gospel. In this way, the Spirit makes us grow interiorly, he makes us grow positively, he makes us grow in the community and he helps us not to fall prey to self-centredness and one’s own way of seeing things. Thus the Spirit helps us to grow and also to live in community. The essential condition for preserving this gift is prayer. We always return to the same theme: prayer! Yet prayer is so important. To pray with the prayers that we all learned as children, but also to pray in our own words. To ask the Lord: “Lord, help me, give me counsel, what must I do now?”. And through prayer we make space so that the Spirit may come and help us in that moment, that he may counsel us on what we all must do. Prayer! Never forget prayer. Never! No one, no one realizes when we pray on the bus, on the road: we pray in the silence of our heart. Let us take advantage of these moments to pray, pray that the Spirit give us the gift of counsel.

In intimacy with God and in listening to his Word, little by little we put aside our own way of thinking, which is most often dictated by our closures, by our prejudice and by our ambitions, and we learn instead to ask the Lord: what is your desire? What is your will? What pleases you? In this way a deep, almost connatural harmony in the Spirit grows and develops within us and we experience how true the words of Jesus are that are reported in the Gospel of Matthew: “do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak but the spirit of your Father speaking through you” (10:19-20). It is the Spirit who counsels us, but we have to make room for the Spirit, so that he may counsel us. And to give space is to pray, to pray that he come and help us always.

3. As with all of the other gifts of the Spirit, then, counsel too constitutes a treasure for the whole Christian community. The Lord does not only speak to us in the intimacy of the heart; yes, he speaks to us, but not only there; he also speaks to us through the voice and witness of the brethren. It is truly a great gift to be able to meet men and women of faith who, especially in the most complicated and important stages of our lives, help us to bring light to our heart and to recognize the Lord’s will!

I remember once at the Shrine of Luján I was in the confessional, where there was a long queue. There was even a very modern young man, with earrings, tattoos, all these things…. And he came to tell me what was happening to him. It was a big and difficult problem. And he said to me: “I told my mother all this and my mother said to me, go to Our Lady and she will tell you what you must do”. Here is a woman who had the gift of counsel. She did not know how to help her son out of his problem, but she indicated the right road: go to Our Lady and she will tell you. This is the gift of counsel. That humble, simple woman, gave her son the truest counsel. In fact, this young man said to me: “I looked at Our Lady and I felt that I had to do this, this and this…”. I did not have to speak, his mother and the boy himself had already said everything. This is the gift of counsel. You mothers who have this gift, ask it for your children, the gift of giving good counsel to your children is a gift of God.

Dear friends, Psalm 16[15], which we heard, invites us to pray with these words: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (vv. 7-8). May the Spirit always pour this certainty into our heart and fill us thus with the consolation of his peace! Always ask for the gift of counsel.

This item 10531 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org 

Christian, remember your dignity

Christ our Saviour is born.

Christ The Saviour is born.

Herewith and excerpt from a wonderful Christmas homily of Pope St. Leo the Great: (Catholic Online)

Christian, remember your dignity 
Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life. In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind. 
And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: 

Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men? 

Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh. 

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom. 

Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ. 

Cathy Pease Designs

Alongside Our Lady during Advent.

image@http://youngandcatholic.net/2013/11

image@http://youngandcatholic.net/2013/11

I have included the two Christmas Novenas I will be praying during Advent 2013.

The’ St. Andrew’ Novena has nothing to do with the Saint, but for the fact  that the novena is started on the 30th of November (St. Andrew’s feast day) and said 15 times per day  until Christmas Eve.

(I like this one as I’m going to be praying for a personal intention .)

I want to pray the Christmas Novena, as it will serve to prepare me for the Feast of Christmas, and keep me focussed on the Truth about this Festive Season.

Are there any prayers you take comfort in praying during Advent?

Preparatory Novena for Christmas

PRAYERS FOR A NOVENA FROM THE 16TH TO THE 24TH OF DECEMBER

Opening Prayer:                                                                                                                                   

Icon@http://puffin.creighton.edu/jesuit/andre/sj_nov2.html

Icon@http://puffin.creighton.edu/jesuit/andre/sj_nov2.html

V. O God, come to my assistance.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father…

Our Father…

Day 1

The Incarnation.

O most sweet infant Jesus, who descended from the bosom of the eternal Father into the womb of the Virgin Mary, where, conceived by the Holy Ghost, you took upon yourself, O Incarnate Word, the form of a servant for our salvation. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

Day 2

The Visitation.

O most sweet infant Jesus, who by means of your Virgin Mother, visited St. Elizabeth, and filled your servant, St. John the Baptist, with the Holy Spirit, sanctifying him from his mother’s womb. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.  Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

Day 3

The Expectation of Birth.

O most sweet infant Jesus, who waited for nine months enclosed in the womb, and inflamed the heart of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph with the most powerful love and expectation, all for the salvation of the world. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

Day 4

The Holy Nativity.

O most sweet infant Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, wrapped in poor swaddling clothes, laid in the manger, glorified by angels, and visited by shepherds. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

O Jesus born of Virgin bright, Immortal glory be to thee; Praise to the Father infinite, And Holy Ghost eternally.

Christ is at hand. O come, let us worship him.

Our Father…

Day 5

The Circumcision.

O most sweet infant Jesus, circumcised when eight days old, and called by the glorious name of Jesus, and proclaimed both by your name and by your blood, to be the Savior of the world. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

Day 6

The Adoration of the Kings.

O most sweet infant Jesus, who was made known to the three kings, who worshipped you as you lie on Mary’s breast, and offered you the mystical presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, 0 Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

Day 7

The Presentation.

O most sweet infant Jesus, presented in the temple by the Virgin Mary, embraced by Simeon, and revealed to the Jews by Anna the prophetess. Have mercy on us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

Day 8

The Flight into Egypt.

O most sweet infant Jesus, whom Herod tried to slay, carried by St. Joseph with your Mother into Egypt, saved from death by flight, and glorified by the blood of the holy innocents. Have mercy on. us.

Have mercy on us. O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary…

O Jesu! born of Virgin bright, Immortal glory be to thee Praise to the Father infinite, And Holy Ghost eternally.

Christ is at hand. 0 come, let us worship him.

Our Father…

Day 9

The Journey in Egypt.

O most sweet infant Jesus, who dwelled as an exile in Egypt for seven years, where spoke your first words, and, first begin to walk upon this earth. Have mercy upon us.

Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

Hail Mary

 Closing

LET US PRAY

0 almighty and everliving God, Lord of heaven and earth, who revealed yourself to little ones, grant, we beg you, that while we celebrate and honor the most holy mysteries of your Son, the infant Jesus, and strive to imitate them, we may arrive at that heavenly kingdom which you have promised to little children, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Picturing Pentecost.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. I found this beautiful picture of  Pentecost on the Magnificat page on Facebook.

This illustration of the Pentecost is a detail from “The Seven Joys of Mary,” an oil on wood created around 1480 by Hans Memling (c. 1430 – 1494). Copyright by La Collection / Artothek.

549068_10151709652153793_1293758251_n

All of the illustrations in Magnificat’s  book “The Seven Joys of Mary” are taken from Hans Memling’s painting. The book features meditations on our Blessed Mother’s seven joys by Magnificat senior editor, Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P. The foreword was penned by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston.

  • A profound and lively reflection on the Seven Joys of Mary: the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, and the Assumption.
  • A contemplation of the mysteries of Christ’s life, the Church, and the Sacraments, through Mary’s joys, superbly accompanied through the lens of sacred art.
  • An ideal gift for Catholics and for those who wish to understand the mystery of our own salvation. Well suited for adult catechetical instruction and RCIA.
Already on my wishlist.
CELPentecost[1]

All that’s good as well as words of Poetry and Inspiration.

images (2)

With JP the Great.

 

 

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, spoke these words to the College of Cardinals following his election as the 265th Successor of Saint Peter, Bishop of Rome, and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church:

Let us never give in to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day. Do not give in to pessimism and discouragement. We have the firm certainty that the Holy Spirit gives the Church with His mighty breath, the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the only Saviour of the whole person and of all persons. This announcement is as valid today as it was at the beginning of Christianity when there was a great missionary expansion of the Gospel.

Sounds and reads like poetry to me! images (11)

Good to hear that ‘the father of lies and deceit’ is alive and well- we need more of our Shepherds to speak of his wily ways.

Will Pope Francis Defend the Persecuted Church?
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/will-pope-francis-defend-the-persecuted-church-91847/#5OXMVkucczLCFUkA.99

Image@RodandersonCPcartoonist

Image@RodandersonCPcartoonist

With the Christian s being the MOST persecuted faith in the world who better could we have on our side?

images

 

The Pope’s prayer intentions for 2013.

 

 

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The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for the year 2013.

Highlights from the 2013 intentions include prayers for participants in World Youth Day, which is slated to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during July of this year. Other intentions emphasize global respect for human life and the environment as well as specific prayers for the protection of families.

The Pope’s entire list of prayer intentions for 2013 is as follows:

January

General: That during this “Year of Faith” Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and joyfully bear witness to the gift of faith in Him.

Missionary: That the Christian communities of the Middle East, which frequently suffer discrimination, may receive the strength of fidelity and perseverance of the Holy Spirit.

February

General: That migrant families, in particular mothers, may be sustained and accompanied in their difficulties.

Missionary: That peoples experiencing war and conflicts may be the protagonists in the building of a future of peace.

March

General: That respect for nature will grow, with the awareness that all creation is the work of God entrusted to human responsibility.

Missionary: That bishops, priests and deacons may be tireless proclaimers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

April

General: That the prayerful and public celebration of the faith may be a source of life for the faithful.

Missionary: That the particular Churches in mission territories may be a sign and instrument of hope and resurrection.

May

General: That those who administer justice will always act with integrity and upright conscience.

Missionary: That seminarians, especially from mission Churches, may always be pastors according to the heart of Christ, fully devoted to the proclamation of the Gospel.

June

General: That a culture of dialogue, listening and reciprocal respect may prevail among the nations.

Missionary:  That in the areas where the influx of secularization is strongest, Christian communities may learn to effectively promote a new evangelization.

July

General: That the World Youth Day taking place in Brazil may encourage all young Christians to become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel.

Missionary: That throughout the Asian continent, doors may be opened to the messengers of the Gospel.

August

General: That parents and teachers may help the new generations to grow up with a upright conscience and a consistent life.

Missionary: That the particular Churches of the African continent, faithful to the Gospel proclamation, may promote the building of peace and justice.

September

General: That the men and women of our time, often immersed in noise, may resdiscover the value of silence and learn to listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.

Missionary: That Christians who suffer persecution in numerous regions of the world may be prophets of the love of Christ by their testimony.

October

General: That those who feel weary from the heaviness of life, and even long for its end, may sense the closeness of God’s love.

Missionary: That the celebration of World Missions Day may make all Christians aware that they are not only recipients but also proclaimers of the Word of God.

November

General: That priests experiencing difficulties may be comforted in their sufferings, sustained in the doubts and confirmed in their fidelity.

Missionary:  That the Churches of Latin America may send missionaries to other Churches as a result of the continental mission.

December

General: That children who are victims of abandonment and of every form of violence may find the love and protection they need.

Missionary: That Christians, enlightened by the light of the incarnate Word, may prepare humanity for the coming of the Savior.

Our Lady, Mary, the Mother of God.

Mary (1)

Called in the Gospels ‘the Mother of Jesus’, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her Son, as “the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 495)

The mother of the Messiah has been called many things in the last 2000 years – the Virgin Mary, Our Lady, the Blessed Mother, the  Mother of God, ‘Theotokos’ meaning God-bearer or mother of God. The latter name being used by the early Church Fathers.

In 431, the Council of Ephesus met, under Cyril’s leadership, and solemnly proclaimed that Mary is indeed rightly to be honoured as the Theotokos, the Mother of God.  It proclaimed that from the moment of His conception, God truly became man.  Of course Mary is a creature and could never be the origin of the eternal Trinity, God without beginning or end.  But the second person of the blessed Trinity chose to truly become man.  He did not just come and borrow a human body and drive it around for a while, ascend back to heaven, and discard it like an old car.  No, at the moment of His conception in the womb of Mary, an amazing thing happened.  God the Son united Himself with a human nature forever.

Mother of God icon.

Mother of God icon
Photo by: Klášter Pražského Jezulátka

The Council of Ephesus, once confirmed by the Pope, became the third ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, and its teaching in this matter is dogma, truth revealed by God which all are bound to accept.

So why does the Roman liturgy celebrate the Octave of Christmas as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God?  Because this paradoxical phrase strikes at the very heart of Christmas.  The songs we sing and the cards we write extol the babe of Bethlehem as Emmanuel, God-with-us.  He is so with us that after Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin of Nazareth, the Divine Word can never again be divided from our humanity.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the perfect woman — hand-picked and created by God to be His mother. She is the ‘highly favoured one’. She knows the fullness of God’s love and passes this beautiful blessing onto to us. For, she is not only God’s mother, but our mother, too. She is the gentle, concerned mother who watches over us day and night, and cares for our every need. Every pain, every worry, every joy we feel she wants us to share it all with her. The love that God manifests toward her, she shares abundantly with us. The Holy Spirit dwells within her heart, and she is a conduit of love, grace, and tender mercy for us. She also serves as a wonderful model of love to emulate.

Just as Christmas honours Jesus as the Prince of Peace, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honours Mary as the Queen of Peace. Like the holy Infant, we are forever safe within her arms.

Mary is worth honouring and emulating because she is the ideal example of perfect obedience to God. Knowing that she could be stoned to death for carrying a baby conceived out of wedlock, she still said ‘yes’ to God: ‘Let it be done to me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38). When she said ‘yes’ to God she demonstrated perfect courage, perfect obedience and perfect faith.

Mary is a pillar of strength. She stands, not faints, at the base of the cross as her son’s life is taken from her. Mary understands human suffering. Her own life was full of suffering: a problem pregnancy, a difficult delivery in a faraway land. Mary bore her suffering with strength, dignity and perfect faith.

Support marriage as the heart of the family.

Archbishop Vincent Nicholls

Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Catholics will be urged to speak up for marriage as the heart of the family in a Pastoral Letter from the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster to his diocese. The Pastoral Letter will be read out during Masses at the 214 Catholic churches in the Diocese of Westminster over 29 – 30 December 2012, the Feast of the Holy Family.

In the letter the Archbishop says: “Indeed this is a time in which to speak up for marriage, between a husband and wife, as the heart of the family.”

“This vision of the family is rooted in the faithful love of a man and a woman, publicly expressed and accepted in marriage, responsible for the birth of the next generation and out of love working for the care and upbringing of their children. This is the vocation of marriage and parenthood, rooted in a natural bond, blessed by God and a sure sacrament in the life of the Church.

 

The full text of the letter follows: Quoted from ICN

My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ

Today’s Feast is a moment in which to rejoice again in the vitality and importance of the family. Indeed this is a time in which to speak up for marriage, between a husband and wife, as the heart of the family.

Of course there are many different circumstances to family life. Events reshape the family lives of many people. We are right to express our admiration for those who work so hard to maintain family stability in difficulty and isolation. Support and loving care for them can make all the difference.

But none of this takes away the importance of having a clear vision of marriage and family, based on human nature itself. This vision of the family is rooted in the faithful love of a man and a woman, publicly expressed and accepted in marriage, responsible for the birth of the next generation and out of love working for the care and upbringing of their children. This is the vocation of marriage and parenthood, rooted in a natural bond, blessed by God and a sure sacrament in the life of the Church.

The first reading of our Mass today, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus, bears witness to the ancient roots of this vision. Written in the second century before Christ, it emphasises the sense of right and wrong that lies at the heart of marriage and family life. It speaks of the honour that is to exist between all the members of a family and across the generations. Along with honour, the author speaks of rights, respect, obedience, support and kindness which are needed if family life is to be stable and fruitful. It values the wisdom of the elderly and recognises the sacrifices necessary to love and care for them as they become frail and live with suffering. Its references to ‘The Lord’ who seeks our obedience shows that these values are not of our choosing. Rather they have an objective character, coming to us from God, or, in other words, written into our very nature and there for us to heed.

The Gospel we have heard recognises that family life will be full of testing times. Indeed for the Holy Family these three days were full of awful anxiety. Only through her thoughtful pondering did Mary come to understand God’s purposes which were not at all the same as her initial expectations. Just as the Holy Spirit had brought about the conception of Jesus within her, so too that same Holy Spirit had to lead Mary to understand and follow God’s ways. The journey by which we come to understand the purpose of God in our human nature and in our lives is also frequently difficult. There is often a journey to make from what I might think is God’s plan for me, to what God really wants. And on this journey the Church and her teaching is a sure guide, not least in the patterns of our relationships.

As we turn to the lovely reading from the First Letter of St John, we learn again that the love at the heart of family life has its origins in God. As we strive to live a life of love we are indeed ‘already children of God’. And what is more, a great promise is given to us too. As this God-given love comes to its fulfilment, ‘we shall become like him because we shall see him as he really is’. This is the promise of heaven that steadies us on our journey on earth. Of course we have to ‘fear the Lord and walk in his ways’, as the Psalmist said. But when we try to do so as best we can, then ‘we need not be afraid in God’s presence’. Rather we can look forward, with a blessed hope, to the coming of our Saviour, both at the hour of our death and at the moment of final judgement.

Today I ask for every family the blessing of God that you may be steadfast in your love and loyalty for each other, overcoming life’s difficulties with a firm and trusting faith and great perseverance. I pray too for our country that we will maintain the importance of marriage between a man and a woman as the heart of family life and, while always retaining proper and due respect for all, resist the proposed redefining of marriage with all its likely consequences particularly in schools and in how children are taught about the true nature of marriage.

At this time, we look to our Members of Parliament to defend, not change, the bond of man and woman in marriage as the essential element of the vision of the family. I urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their Members of Parliament, clearly, calmly and forcefully. Please do so as soon as possible.

I ask you to keep me in your prayers on this day, that as a diocese we may be a family that is loving and supportive of one another in our life in the Lord. Amen
Yours devotedly
+Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster