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In a country like ours, protecting the right to human life is an urgent and pressing social and moral concern. As St John Paul said, the right to life is the most fundamental right, and the source of all other rights. You can’t exercise the right to do anything else if you have been killed.1
Each year in the UK, the lives of nearly 200,000 children are ended by abortion, and many more through embryo experimentation, the discarding of “spare” embryos in IVF, and early abortions by the “morning after pill.”
In response to this, we must of course offer help to mothers in difficulties: the Good Counsel Network undertakes this often difficult work of mercy and we support this work in the parish.
It is also necessary to be well-informed in this issue by joining one of the pro-life organisations such as SPUC, and taking the trouble to budget some of our time and effort in becoming properly informed. Too many Catholics simply get their information from the television which in our country is strongly biased against the sanctity of human life. As a result, many Catholics slavishly parrot the shallow and deceptive propaganda of the secular metropolitan elite. This is simply not good enough: not only is it a dereliction of our duty to know, love and serve God, it leads with shocking frequency to Catholics themselves condoning, excusing or otherwise co-operating in the destruction of human life.
Today, a new threat to life has arisen through the same relentless propaganda, now pushing for the legalisation of assisted suicide. Changing the law in this way will have many bad consequences such as making elderly people feel pressured into not being “a burden” on their relatives.
In addition, the legalisation of assisted suicide in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland has led to a steady increase in the number of cases, and the spread of the practice to involve people with chronic but not fatal diseases, disabled people, children and those with mental illnesses and dementia.
We should be aware too, that it costs on average £3000 to £4000 a week to provide in-patient hospice care, but just a one-off cost of £5 to pay for the drugs which would help a person to commit suicide.
Another fact that is influential on opinion is that the British Medical Association and all major disability advocacy groups oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide.
Such points are useful in trying to persuade people, perhaps at work or among our friends and family, who have been enticed by the one-sided emotional presentation of difficult cases.2
Ultimately, though, we affirm the natural law and the inviolable principle of the right to life of every innocent human being, and the duty to care for the sick, the elderly and the disabled, rather than to allow the Government to take the cheaper route of lethal injection.
Pope Francis has given us heartfelt encouragement to witness to the Gospel. In a country like England, that witness, if it is to be authentic to the signs of the times, and to the needs of our fellow-citizens, must include informed, confident, and loving witness to the Gospel of Life.
Sermon given by Fr Finigan for the 17th Sunday of the year (A). Our Lady of the Rosary. 27 July 2014
1. See the Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (“the Gospel of Life”) by Saint John Paul II.
2. See the report form Care Not Killing on the results from a recent poll: Assisted Dying and Public Opinion
This Saturday 2 August, a plenary indulgence may be gained (under the usual conditions) by the faithful who visit a parish Church and say the Pater and Credo.
This indulgence was granted by Pope Honorius III to the Church of Our Lady of the Angels (the “Portiuncula“) which contains the little Church which was repaired by St Francis. The indulgence has been granted ever since, having later been extended to all parish Churches throughout the world.
On Saturday 2 August, there will be Missa Cantata at 10.30am for the feast of St Alphonsus, followed by pizza in the Large Hall for Catholics who use social media in the service of the Gospel. There will be Vespers and Benediction at 2.30pm.
Of your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Anita Dinsmore who died recently.
The Requiem Mass will be on Tuesday 5 August at 9.30am, followed by burial at Eltham Cemetery.
Requiescat in pace
Of your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Maria de Stefano who died recently.
The Funeral service will be at Eltham Cemetery chapel on Wednesday 6 August at 2pm, followed by burial at Eltham Cemetery.
Requiescat in pace
Solemn High Mass and Reception
Fr Finigan will celebrate sung Latin High Mass on Wednesday 27 August 7.30pm, with Gregorian Chant sung by Julia Jones and the Parish Choir. There will be a reception afterwards in the Parish Hall.
Rev Michael Baldry would like to advise you of a collection for Fr Finigan, to be taken up over the weekend of 23/24 August, to make a presentation to him in thanks for his 17 years of ministry in the parish. As some people may wish to contribute to this but will be away during August, envelopes are available at the back of the Church.
Before the great prayer of sacrifice, the preface, Sanctus and Canon, the priest asks the people to pray “that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.” The priest offers sacrifice in the person of Christ as he consecrates the bread and wine so that they become the body and blood of Christ.
As well as the priest offering sacrifice by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Order, the faithful also offer sacrifice by virtue of their Baptism. Their priesthood is, as the second Vatican Council makes clear, different in kind and not simply in degree, but it is a sharing through Baptism, in the priestly character of Christ.
The faithful, by Baptism, receive the lifelong right and duty to offer Christian worship according to the rites of the Church. At Mass, in union with the sacrifice offered once and for all by Christ on the Cross, and made present through the action of the priest, all present are called to offer their own sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition.
The Church grew up in the Roman empire, and the early Christians knew of the customs of the Roman army in which the legionary took the oath of military service. On taking the oath, the enlisted man changed the white toga of the citizen for the red toga of the legionary. (It was originally taken to the senate and the people of Rome and later to the General and the Emperor.) The soldier was subject to the orders of his general which would override his conscience. He would kill whoever he was ordered to kill. He also forfeited the citizen’s right of appeal against the death penalty and could be summarily executed.
The Christians saw Baptism as a peaceful equivalent of this oath in a total consecration and a new life, though respectful of the person as created in the image and likeness of God. As the legionary had a visible tattoo on his body, so the Christian has the invisible seal, stamp, or “character” imprinted upon his soul. Baptism, like the tattoo of the legionary, can never be repeated, and can never be effaced.
The seal or character deputes the baptised Christian to offer worship to God through the Liturgy here on earth, and to continue to offer that worship for ever in heaven. That is fundamentally what it means to be a baptised Christian. Of course, and as I have repeated many times, this worship obliges us also to live the Christian life of charity, to carry out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and to bring the gospel to others. And again, to re-emphasise the point, the grace for this charity flows from the Liturgy, and we bring to the Liturgy the offerings of our works of charity.
But it is the worship of God which is central and primary. The permanent seal upon our soul, the Baptismal character deputes us to offer worship to God by celebrating the Liturgy both here on earth and, one day soon, in heaven.
In both cases, we are united to the whole Church, militant, suffering and triumphant; we are united to the Church here on earth labouring to bring others to Christ, to the holy souls suffering in purgatory, who are helped by our prayers, and to the saints in glory who cheer us on to victory.
We should be inspired by the seriousness with which the early Christians regarded their Baptism; we also should see it as a solemn oath of allegiance to Christ, and we should and try to live up to the great calling we have received, following the example of those early heroes who peacefully conquered the might of Rome.
Sermon given by Fr Finigan for the 16th Sunday of the year (A). Our Lady of the Rosary. 20 July 2014
The Requiem Mass will be on Tuesday 22 July at 10.30am, followed by committal at Eltham Crematorium.
Requiescat in pace
Mr John Murphy is retiring as Headteacher of Our Lady of the Rosary School after 26 years as Headteacher and 44 years in Catholic education.
Mass 22 July 7.30pm
Archbishop Smith will be visiting the parish to celebrate Mass on the occasion of Mr Murphy’s retirement. Children from the school will be singing at the Mass, former Deputy Heads of the school will share recollections after Mass, and there will be a reception in the Large Hall.