MESSAGE TO PARISHIONERS FROM DAVID IN ROME:
When one begins formation for priesthood it feels as though you are in for the long haul and can’t get to the finish-line quick enough. Suddenly, I find myself at the end of fourth year and receiving candidacy -- the Church’s formal recognition of a clerical vocation -- and so the countdown to ordination next year (first as deacon) has begun!
Bishop Paul Mason, bishop to the military, presided over the Mass and preached on how God intends us to soar like eagles, but with the Holy Spirit in our wings. I must say, I was quite on air myself. From this point onwards, I may dress in clerics (priestly garb) so as to witness to my intention to complete my formation. The rite involved us being asked if we were “morally certain” of a call from the Lord, and if we are “resolved” to carry on with a view to ordination? I can say that I do now feel interiorly free and happy enough to say yes to Christ and His Church. I was very conscious of the number of you who continue to pray for me. No man makes it through without such support. Thank-you.
It seems, however, that I might be part of the old guard who receive candidacy at the end of year 4 of seminary. The Bishops of England & Wales are currently deciding on how to readjust the “ministries” conferred on a discerner so as to bring formation in line with the wishes of Pope Francis. Since he created the lay ministry of catechist it has become more theologically acute that the ministries of reader and acolyte are primarily baptismal ministries that are open to all the faithful and not just those of us progressing towards ordination. As a result, candidacy may be moved earlier on in the process or left up the seminarian to express when he feels ready to take this step. For the moment, however, no-one knows just how everything will develop. As for me, although aware of my many faults, I praise God for calling me to minister soon enough in our Archdiocese and express here, once again, how lucky I feel to have shared the journey thus far with so many wonderful priests and parishioners along the way.
David Bench (May 2022)
Prayer for our seminarians:
O God, hear our prayer for the men you have chosen to follow in your Son's footsteps.
Teach them humility and fidelity to unselfishly help others.
May their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Queen of Vocations increase,
enabling them to do your will.
Strengthen their prayer life that they may grow spiritually without worldly distractions.
Give them courage and perseverance in their studies.
May the Holy Spirit lighten their struggles with their vocations,
until they know the joy of being a priest.
We ask this through Christ your Son. Amen.
Spring Plenary 2022 ResolutionAn invitation from the Bishops of England and Wales
This is the bread come down from heaven (John 6:58)
A beautiful hallmark of the Catholic faith is the profound desire to participate in the Holy Mass and share in the Eucharist. We do so with deep gratitude and joy. The Eucharist gives the Church her identity – “The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Church makes the Eucharist.” It enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world. This hallmark is supported and strengthened by the precept that our fundamental Christian duty is to worship God by participating in the celebration of Mass. Attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the greatest of all privileges, sometimes referred to as “the Sunday Obligation.”
Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, until the present time, we have shared with you our judgment that the situation of the last two years has meant that the Sunday Obligation has been impeded and has needed to be fulfilled in other ways. We thank God that this situation has now changed. The pressing challenges of the pandemic have lessened significantly. Most people have resumed the wide range of normal activities, no longer restricted by the previous Covid measures. We therefore believe that the reasons which have prevented Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation no longer apply.
We understand there will still be some members of our congregations who, for reasons of health, do not feel safe enough to return to Mass. It has always been the understanding of the Church that when the freedom of any Catholic to attend Mass in person is impeded for a serious reason, because of situations such as ill health, care for the sick or legitimate fear, this is not a breach of the Sunday Obligation.
Our Catholic people and parishes have benefitted during these difficult times from the online streaming of Mass and other services. “Virtual viewing” of Mass online does not fulfil the Sunday Obligation. It may, however, be a source of continual spiritual comfort to those who cannot attend Mass in person, for example those who are elderly and sick, for whom the obligation does not apply. In this context, we recognise gratefully the ministry of those who administer Holy Communion to the elderly, sick and housebound.
We are grateful to our clergy, religious and lay faithful who have served our parishes, schools and communities with dedication and distinction throughout this pandemic. Now we look forward with renewed faith and confidence.
In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord Jesus entrusted to us the precious gift of Himself. With humility, we glory in being a Eucharistic people for whom attendance at Mass is essential. Looking forward to the forthcoming feast of Pentecost, we now invite all Catholics who have not yet done so to return to attending Mass in person.
As the Church needs the witness of the presence of each person, so too each believer needs to journey in faith and worship with their fellow disciples. Nourished by our encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus, fed with His Word and His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, and supported by the presence of each other, we receive strength week by week, to serve the Lord and glorify Him with our lives.
Approved by the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference
Friday 6 May 2022
Pope Francis – May 2022
Speaking about the family, I would like to begin by addressing the young people first.
When I think of a model with whom young people can identify with, our Mother, Mary, always comes to mind: her courage, the way she knew how to listen, and her dedication to service.
She was courageous and determined to say “yes” to the Lord.
You young people, who want to build something new, a better world, follow her example, take risks!
Don’t forget that in order to follow Mary you need to discern and discover what Jesus wants from you, not what you might think you can do.
And in this discernment, it’s a great help to listen to the words of grandparents.
In those words of grandparents, you will find a wisdom that will take you beyond the issues of the moment.
They will provide an overview of your concerns.
Let us pray, brothers and sisters, so that all young people, called to live life to the fullest, may discover in Mary’s life the way to listen, the depth of discernment, the courage of faith, and dedication to service.
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