Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Just like Peter

... he threw himself in the water!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

I'm going fishing. We'll come too!

Last week I spent on the coast of the English Channel and did some fishing. Declan and Marie brought baby Benedict and Fr Stephen joined us for part of the week. Declan has a commercial fishing boat and is an amateur drift-netter. This photo shows the first excursion made by Declan and myself in an infatable to reconnoitre the fishing grounds near Bognor.

We went out each day to drift-net and troll. We caught two fish but the sea was absolutely tremendous even with Spring Tides each day. I don't have any photos of the fishing as we didn't want to lose the camera while we were out at sea. One night we went out at dusk - this was a first for me - and put out the nets about half a mile from the shore. I thought of St Peter and his companions in the twenty first chapter of St John's Gospel - we caught nothing that night! Declan is learning the art of drift netting and is very competent with the nets. Marie too has great seamanship and the two of them enjoyed some high speed thrabber.

Fishing with nets was an extraordinary and poignant experience for a priest - especially just after Easter! And it is a great blessing for a priest to know a fisherman (with a boat).

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Christ alive in Huddersfield

I'm back from my break and will post about it soon to let you know what I got up to. But in the meantime, since it is Eastertime and we are called to put out the nets, I'm organising an Easter Garden Party at Our Lady Mother of Grace House where I live. This photo shows a BBQ outside the house during a parish mission event last year.

This Eastertime Garden Party will be held on Saturday 5th May, 11am - 3.00pm in the garden of my house (postcode: HD2 1HF) and will include talks from visiting speakers Fr Sylvester CFR and Fr Julian, a BBQ lunch, time spent relaxing together and an hour of Adoration and Praise. There's an open invitation - let me know if you would like to come (I need to have enough food and drink on hand) and help or take part.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Step in

This week has given us the greatest call to step from our old selves and to live in the Mystery of Faith. Making the transition is a powerful experience. Maybe we have halted at the very threshold, or know someone who is holding back from the Life of Grace. I include this autobiographical detail in St Cyprian's writings to spur us on (it was quoted by the Holy Father at an address in February):

I lived in this world of ours totally cut off from God because the divinities were dead and God was not visible. And in seeing Christians I thought: it is an impossible life, this cannot be done in our world! Then, however, meeting some of them, joining their company and letting myself be guided in the catechumenate, in this process of conversion to God. I gradually understood: it is possible! And now I am happy at having found life. I have realised that the other was not life, and to tell the truth, even beforehand, I knew that it was not true life.

I wont be posting for a few days now as I'm taking a short rest. Be filled with the light of Christ.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

A true road

The advent of calendars with photographs of priests who look like models is not something for us to be too flippant about. Priests rarely get a good press from the pagan media and if we want to see priests in a good light then we must look beyond the images which our culture promotes.
The Linacre Institute for Bioethics recently published a book - After Asceticism - you can read about it here.

You might find the style of writing here rather abrubt but the writer is concerned to speak about the value of asceticism in the Christian Life. Whilst clergy are the primary focus of this article, the basic notion is that any man or woman who wishes to remain true to God requires some asceticism in order to do so.

What is most revealing in this article is that the writer has identified how traditional ascetical discipline in the Christian Life has been outmoded in favour of a therapeutic mentality - an emotional quest for "self-definition or self-actualisation, without regard to an objective philosophical, religious or moral truth". I find that I can easily "pamper" myself, especially after periods of business or intense work, and that I fail to see what real value "pampering" has for me, and even worse, I have forgotten the place of asceticism in my life. Whilst the whole area of clergy, sexuality and sexual abuse (which is what this book is taking about) is a very complex one, I am glad that such a book has been written and I intend to read it. The renewal of the priesthood is a very great goal for anyone to be involved with.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Days of faith

The Octave Days of Easter are special for the whole Church since the celebration of Easter lasts eight days. They are special for priests because they offer us some respite after the demands of Holy Week and its Liturgies. Both Fr Julian and myself spent some of these days as guests of Alan and Anne and their family. This photo was taken in Lincoln Cathedral close by the shrine of St Hugh.
Actually, these days were very grace-filled family days of prayer. Not only did we take part in prayer and fellowship with Alan and Anne's large family, but we were joined by other families also. We celebrated Masses with them and took part in a men's prayer group which Alan leads. It was a great joy and privilage for us to be part of the Church blossoming in rural Lincolnshire, and we joined forces with Fr Chris the local Parish Priest who both of us know from seminary days. Plans are afoot to follow this visit with another Family Day of Faith later in the spring. Very grateful thanks to Alan and Anne and company for hosting our visit and for all the fettlements we enjoyed.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Easter Monday

Now that we have been witnesses of Christ's work during these days of the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, we are called to climb out of the darkness into the Light of Christ. There is so much in our culture to suggest that Satan has the upper hand - in the oppression of truth and the rejection of the Gospel - yet, everything now belongs to Christ. These are some of the Holy Father's word taken from his Easter Message:

Dear Brothers and sisters, through
the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope. In fact, by his rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world but has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace. He has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love. He has left us the love that does not fear death, as the way to peace and joy. “Even as I have loved you – he said to his disciples before his death – so you must also love one another” (cf. Jn 13:34).

During our outdoor Stations of the Cross on Good Friday we passed by a whole group of young people who were restraining a huge, muzzled dog from attacking us. This may have been a nice dog, but it represented everything that Satan is, snarling, angry, out of control and it did indeed alarm us as we passed it on the street. Now, when we passed by the same place at the end of the Stations the dog was gone and we noticed that the young lads were surprisingly respectful towards us. The truth is that whatever our culture throws at us to make it appear that our Christian lives are useless and out of place, is a lie. Our streets belong to Jesus Christ. Christ has reclaimed our lives from darkness and we need to know that. Our culture needs to be reclaimed from the darkness and we are uniquley placed to help. Not by reacting unreasonably to the falsehood and despair of the culture of death around us, but by being faithful to God each time we meet it. Then we will allow the Love of God to be present in our culture. And by being faithful to God we will allow Him to heal our wounds.

Sunday, 8 April 2007


New light, new life, new members of Christ, all flowing from the work of Christ in the world. Last night we celebrated the ancient Rites which were put together (their origin is French) to be held at night, and during which the gift of Baptism would be bestowed.
During the Vigil and First Mass of Easter here in Huddersfield, Will was received into the Church, Confirmed and received the Body and Blood of the Lord for the first time. His awareness of the work of Christ in him had been heightened through his contact with the two evangelisers and catechists, John and Neil, who sponsored his entry into the Church.
The Rites of the Church which usher in the embracing of the Christian Life were not designed for their dramatic effect - yet these dramatic rites are unequalled for their beauty and suitability. Last night I was suddenly aware that our Easter fire was not catching, the wood would not burn, and visitors to the parish came to our aid stoking the fire with new kindling.
Christ told us not to forget him, but to await his return. The great Vigil is held each year because we expect his return on the night of the moon which saw him rise from the dead. Christ did not come last night to complete history, but he did come in person in the Eucharist, and he came to lead us to fulfill God's plan for us. The way by which we go is threatened by the walls of the culture of death rising on both sides to engulf us. This culture can only threaten but not engulf the way which has been created by Christ. He has filled us with light and our spirits are called to respond no longer to the darkness, but to the light.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Holy Saturday

John Pridmore has been participating in the Easter Triduum with me in Huddersfield. Yesterday evening I asked him to lead the Stations of the Cross in the streets near the church. It was great to see a number of our neighbours (not necessrily Catholics) spontaneously coming to join our act of witness. Perhaps they had had to work on Good Friday but, on seeing us, they immediately recognised what we were doing and why.
Will, the young man in the picture holding the cross, is to be Received into the Church and Confirmed at our Easter Vigil. He has been living and working with John and the St Patrick's Mission Team and has clearly received a great deal of solid Christian formation from them. I can see that he wants God to have access to every part of his life when he is Confirmed. Pray for him today and all the many others throughout the country who are offering themselves to God this Easter as workers in His Kingdom.
The Life of Grace, as we have experienced during the Holy Week Liturgies, is in great part, a life of witness to the redeeming events of Christ's life. At its heart is the new relationship of fidelity to our Father in heaven which Christ has built for us. In the face of the culture of death - which in my part of the world seems to be an impenetrable culture of darkness - we are called to build the Culture of Life. In our exposure to Holy Week we will surely be more appreciative of the gift of Christ's friendship to us and know that the Culture of Life is much more than task for us to achieve. The Culture of Life is first and foremost the witness to Grace.

Friday, 6 April 2007

The Cancer Hospice: A place of death in the Culture of Life

I'd like to thank everyone who has prayed for my sister Mandy during the past weeks as she was suffering with the secondary cancers which, yesterday, resulted in her being called on the final pilgrimage to God in heaven. She died in the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in North Staffordshire, the same place (and only two rooms away) from where my father died six years ago. It was where Mandy wanted to be, because it was where dad had been. During the night her husband and I were told that we should expect that she might die at any time. But she was strong and kept on hanging on to life until 5.20pm. That was almost exactly to the minute the same time that our father had died there back in February 2000.

Just before she went in to the hospice at the beginning of the week I'd had a chat with Mandy, just me and her. There had been some moments of anxiety during her last days in hospital before going to the hospice, but she shared in that conversation her deep faith in God and his love. And she was looking forward to seeing dad again.

I'd just like to share my reflection on the hospice itself. I know that the Douglas Macmillan Hospice - like all cancer care hospices - is trying to get away from the image of being a place you go to in order to die. These days they offer day care, respite care, and many other services which help in the palliative care of cancer sufferers. But the experience of our family has been that of the hospice as a place to help in the last days of life. You might think that a place like the in-patient unit of the hospice would be a sad and mournful place. It is after all a place of death. But this is not the case at all. It actually more resembles a rather nice hotel - or better still, an extension of home. Unlike a hospital with visiting hours and the rather clinical environment, the hospice is a place where families are welcome, everyone is treated with respect and generosity and even love. There is something particularly special about the members of staff who work there - doctors, nurses, and other staff - such that they demonstrate a deep respect for the dignity of the dying person. This is not the false dignity of the culture of death, which seeks to preserve dignity through mercy killing. This is the true culture of life, respecting the person and every dimension of their life, in the midst of their human weakness and suffering. Some people imagine that the drug regimes in hospices are there not only to make the last moments of life pain free, but also to help that last moment come. This is evidently not the case. Indeed we can be assured by palliative medicine specialists that keeping patients pain free is more likely to keep them alive longer than otherwise.

In these days I reflected on what it must have been like to die with the more excrutiating forms of cancer in the days before palliative cancer care. I can't even imagine what that 'last agony' could have been like. I am therefore very thankful to the hospice movement, begun by Douglas Macmillan back just under 100 years ago, which now results in such fine care being given to cancer sufferers in their last days. I am grateful that, in the middle of a society which is so marked by the culture of death, the culture of life is alive and well in these well-respected and valued institutions. Of course pain and suffering united to Christ is redemptive, and the Church recognises that. But the Church also tells us that:

Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person
cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the
sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be
morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end
or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a
special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged. (CCC 2279)

I refer back also to Fr Fleming's talk on end of life pastoral care, where he said that the number of patients asking for euthanasia reduced to zero when they were assured that they would be free of pain, and would not be abandoned by relatives.

The culture of life is seen also in the respect that is given to faith in the Hospice. There is a well kept chapel, a team of chaplains, and a distinctive Christian ethos. After my father's death, my other sister did a cross stitch of the last supper which now hangs above the altar in the chapel with a plaque in memory of our dad. This was a great focus for prayer during these last few days for me. The hospice is a real place of peace, even with so much evidence of suffering and human weakness around. I feel privileged to have shared in the passion of Christ so closely during these days of Holy Week.

It is no accident that our hospices are still not funded by Government funds (actually bringing them into the public sector would probably ruin them anyway as they'd be given goals, and be turned faith neutral). These are places which rely on charitable funds. I'd urge anyone to get involved in a local hospice, either supporting financially or with volunteer time, or simply through prayer.

Finally, I'd like to pay tribute to my dear sister, Amanda Louise Buxton, who was always called Mandy by everyone. She was a devoted wife and mother, and a great influence for good in the lives of many young people as a scout leader for 20 years. Her 49 years may be short compared to average life expectancy but she achieved so much, and especially in the last nine years since she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I know she had great faith and love in her heart, and that these are what the Kingdom of God are made from. I thank God that in answer to so many prayers, she was freed from her initial phase of depression over Christmas, and that she was able to live these last weeks sharing her love with family and friends. I pray she may rest in peace, and I pray for my family.

Good Friday

Today is both a good day and a bad day for friends of Christ. On the one hand, hardly any showed up, on the other hand Christ was forging his friendship with us in the most definitive way - he was giving everything to this friendship.
First, let us remember Mandy, Fr Julian's sister who died yesterday after a long illness. We remember her husband and their three children. We remember Fr Julian who has been at his family's side all this week. Holy Week has been lived, by that family, in a remarkable way. May Mandy rest in Christ's peace.
Today, we are called to re-live the Passion, as it is given to us in the Gospel, to stand with the Blessed Mother and St John and venerate the Cross, to give witness to the terrible events by which Christ redeemed humanity. In the New Evangelisation, our Heavenly Father wishes to bring us to a new faith in the love which Christ had for each of us as he hung on the cross. It is our conversion which is at stake, and this Good Friday might see us making a huge advance. The Sacrament of Confession is the key and for many of us the season of Eastertime will be a time for covering lost ground.
We cannot conceive of immediately
living a life that is 100 percent Christian without doubts and without sins. We
have to recognise that we are journeying on, that we must and can learn, and
also, gradually, that we must convert. Of, course, fundamental conversion is a
definitive act. But true conversion is an act of life that is acheived through
the patience of a life-time. It is an act in which we must not lose trust and
courage on the way. (B16, 22.2.07)

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Maundy Thursday

What can we say about today - there is so much to say and so little of it suffices. I will say just a little. The Eucharist was utterly unexpected. Christ had already given himself to humanity by being born as one of us and we would never have expected him to give himself to us in the fullest way possible.

I'll make a few references to the Holy Father's letter "Sacramentum Caritatis" - we haven't had a document like this since Pius XII's "Mediator Dei"! After all the recent liturgial changes, after all the neccesary anthroplogy which JPII gave us and especially the Theology ofthe Body - which we need to insert more fully into our understanding of human matters, and his Eucharistic letters, Benedict 16th renews our understanding of the meaning of human life upon the basis of the Eucharist and its insertion into the Church and into the world.

"Since only truth can make us free, Christ becomes for us the food of truth." In the Eucharist uniquely, we are able to undertake the Life of Grace, the only kind of life we were ever destined to live. In the beginning, the Holy Father says, men and women were given "some share in God's breath of life", but in Christ we are made "sharers of God's inmost life". We see this same dynamic most commonly taking place in the Sacrament of marriage and in those who enter into a genuine natural marriage. That two people enter into one another's lives in a mysterious yet personal way, and in so doing they begin to live in a new way - they live a life of communion.

We had "forgotten" our primary purpose in life - we were to live for God and with God. The gift of Christ's body and blood, a gift which would bring forth the gift of his Holy Spirit, makes possible the same, but greater, dynamic which can be called "friendship with Christ", but which is more properly called the Life of Grace. "The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self oblation ... we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving." And here the Holy Father draws on an image he used at the Cologne World Youth Day; the Eucharist, he says, introduces into creation "a sort of nuclear fission ... which penetrates to the heart of all being ... to the point where God will be all in all." This is indeed the great mystery upon which our lives are built, directed and filled.

There will be opportunities in later postings to comment on the massive treatment which the Holy Father gives to the Liturgy in this letter. Here, I would like to note that with this document he is paving the way for the "reform of the reform". In the third paragraph a simple sentence states the whole principle of this reform: "Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the Rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities."

Well, here we are - at the very threshold of the Church's celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the hinge of our lives, our spritual lives, our moral lives, our social lives, our family lives, our work and our intellectual lives. The world will seem to stop as we open ourselves to the decisive action of the Blessed Trinity in human life.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Spy Wednesday

Today's traditional name comes from Judas who, separating himself from Christ and the apostolic group, forges a secret plan with the authorities in Jerusalem to capture Jesus.

We remember Fr Julian, his sister and all her family at this time - that there may be a lot of grace for them all.

It is a great mystery to us that one of the twelve who had been with him since the beginning, who had witnessed the Life of Grace and who had been present in the Upper Room as Christ reveals, in the fullest way, the plan of God's heart for human beings, should decide that, actually, there is another, better, way - his way! And so he leaves the Upper Room early and heads off to enact his plan.

Then as now, the two world views stand in sharp contrast to one another: there is God's plan for the world and there is my plan for the world. What is most unexpected however, is that no matter how dark the world's plan is, it cannot put out the light. We see on this day, Spy Wednesday, the culture of death setting itself up against grace and trying to overthrow it.

I am reminded by today's Gospel which narrates these two plans - Judas and the authorities in the Jerusalem preparing one plan, and Jesus and the eleven just outside the city preparing another - of the Holy Father's last Christmas message. In this he spoke of the terrible contemporary phenomenon of people deciding that they don't want Christ, but rather the culture of death where people:

remain enslaved, exploited and
stripped of their dignity; others are victims of racial and religious hatred,
hampered by intolerance and discrimination, and by political interference and
physical or moral coercion with regard to the free profession of their faith
.... those who are misled by facile prophets of happiness, those who struggle
with relationships and are incapable of accepting responsibility for their
present and future, those who are trapped in a tunnel of loneliness and who
often end up enslaved to alcohol or drugs .... what are we to think of those who
choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?

Such is the picture that Judas and secular neo-pagan culture gives to us, and in the midst of this Christ is filling his followers with light, the light of grace. If we have been "doing our homework" this Lent then we should be choosing Christ with enthsiasm and love - ready to stake our lives upon God's plan for us and for the world. The alternative to choosing the culture of death is to want Christ.

A community saved by Christ. This
is the true nature of the Church, which draws her nourishment from his Word and
his Eucharistic Body .... knowing that the One she proclaims takes away nothing that
is authenically human, but instead brings it to fulfilment. In truth, Christ
comes to destroy only evil, only sin; everything else, all the rest, he elevates
and perfects. Christ does not save us from our humanity, but through it; he
does not save us from the world, but came into the world, so that through him
the world might be saved. (B16, 25.12.06)
In our own lives we may be poised between choosing good or evil, between life and death, yet in the depths of our hearts we know that we need to be saved. The directions and directives of our post-modern society will not help us to choose, just as the authorities in Jerusalem were incapable of helping Judas, but Christ is totally available to us and the Life of Grace is one step away.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Prayers please

I feel very strange tonight. Holy Week is really the centre of the year for a priest - as it is for all the faithful - but today I had to hand over the celebration of the Liturgy of the Triduum to our Vicar General, Mgr Moran, and I will also be missing the Chrism Mass as I have to be on hand at home. My sister - whom I mentioned before - is now in the last few days of her fight with cancer. Today she was admitted to the local hospice in Stoke-on-Trent. So please pray for her. Her name is Mandy Buxton. I am very thankful to brother priests who are willing to help in such circumstances, and to all people for prayers.

Holy Tuesday

Today our attention is directed by Our Lord to the nature of our own discipleship. Even though, at this part in the week, Our Lord was teaching everyday in the Temple in Jerusalem the Gospel focusses on the Apostles themselves and the only indication we have about what was going on within the apostolic group comes from St John's narration of the Last Supper.

When I was at seminary in Valladolid in Spain I knew a spanish family who had a wall hanging of Da Vinci's "Last Supper" in their living room. Embroided in this hanging were some of Our Lord's words at the Last Supper: "One of you will betray me". Of all Christ's words that could have been quoted for a family home I always thought these were a somewhat unusual choice.

It is very difficult for us to appreciate the anxieties, distress and emotions which were present in the apostolic group at this time as Christ approached "his hour", but an attentive ear to today's Gospel will surely lead us to pray for one another at this time. Christ calls us his "children". We are to trust him, now more than ever, and in a way which allows him to do what we would never be able to do - to love us to the end.

We see in today's Gospel how urgent was the need for trust within the apostolic group - there must be trust amongst us, that we are all open to Christ in his Pascal Mystery.

We should pray for spouses, that they equally choose Christ to be at the centre of their relationship. We should pray for catechists and teachers, that they might hand on more keenly the truths of faith. We pray for evangelisers, that they might be open to receive the light that only God can give. We should pray for single people, that they might be the source of community in Christ for many. We should pray for priests, those who are like Christ, brother, father and spouse, that their friendship with Christ will be everything to them. The few Masses that remain to us this week must now be moments of intense trust in Christ and prayer for the loyalty of the Church.

The New Day is almost upon us when God wishes to renew the Life of Christ within us. Remember Bernadette of Lourdes - "from the time she turned fifteen, sure of the message she has received from the Blessed Mother, she had the tenacious courage to brave the suspicions of the adult world in order to be faithful to what she had received and to bear witness to it." (JPII, Lourdes, 1983) God's plan is that we should be saints.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Holy Monday

We are moving in dangerous times; the truth which God wants us to know, live by and hand on to others is already reckoned by our society as inappropriate and we are at the threshold of this truth being unlawfull. The laws which we used to hold to about marriage and the way in which men and women relate with one another are not arbitrary laws because they are laws from God.

Today's poignant Gospel is a wonderful call to friendship with Christ. In it we see Mary responding to Christ's friendship while Judas seems already to have distanced himself from that friendship. The context of this Gospel, the house of Christ's friends in Bethany, is one in which response to his friendship has already bourne great fruit in conversion, joy, understanding, light and new life. Jesus has arrived at Jerusalem for the Festival but he chooses to stay each night outside the city with his friends. There is a meal; many people are there enjoyng his presence. Mary senses a deeper, more pressing meaning to Christ's presence, she knows that this Festival will see Christ revealing his friendhip in an even greater way. He receives her extraordinary gesture of love.

Judas is already an intimate friend of Christ, but through pride he is choosing his own ambitions and ideas, and for that matter, his own ideas about the Kingdom. Jesus' response to Judas expresses his persevering friendship towards this man who he knows is wrestling with his own sinfulness. It is not Christ who will let Judas down.

What should we do? First we must learn the lesson of this Gospel: don't wrestle with sin but give in to Christ's friendship. This will mean making use of the Sacrament of Penance.

It also means us being more aware of Christ's friendship towards us at this time and not being distracted by the "friendship" which this world creates and prolifereates. For us this means training and formation. Training our hearts and minds to respond to grace - in prayer, and forming our lives by openness to the Gospel and the teaching and life of the Church.

In the UK we still live in freedom, unless you are a Catholic or follow God in a sincere way. But real freedom does not rely upon the generosity or open mindedness of society; it relies solely upon the free response of men and women to Christ.

It is this freedom that we need to learn again in grace. It is a freedom without conditions. Conditions, as we will see, are set by the enemies of Christ and by those who have only one foot in the Gospel.

It is still early in the week and the call to stake eveything on Christ is going to grow.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Holy Week begins

Last night six of us took part in the Lucenarium which I have recently started celebrating again on the vigil of Sunday. This is a photo taken in the chapel in my presbytery last night. Of course, last night was the vigil of Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, a week which in fact lasts two weeks since Easter day is a feast of eight days in itself.
The Liturgies of these days are amongst the oldest which are celebrated by the Church. There are references to the Palm Sunday Liturgy by St Ciril of Jerusalem (died 386); that pilgrims went over the very ground where Christ passed as he came into the city. They would go out to Bethany and there, thinking of that first palm Sunday procession, they would come back to Jerusalem, holding palms and singing to Christ. Then, when the pilgrims went home to their own lands, they woud describe what they had seen and done. This Liturgy, given to us by Rome, does not have its origin there but in Jerusalem.
What is also unusual at the Palm Sunday Mass is that the Gospel is the account of the Passion. This year we will read St Luke's account of the Passion. Both the procession and the Gospel of Palm Sunday announce and express what we are doing at the beginning of Holy Week. We are welcoming Christ as he comes to perform his greatest work; entering into the depth of human life so as to redeem it. We are welcoming him into our culture, into the Church and into our lives. What happens on Palm Sunday is at once the genuine expression of friendship offered to Christ by countless Catholics, and his entry into fallen humanity in order to do the unspeakable - to suffer and to die in our place and to rise again so that we can have a new life. His humble entry into Jerusalem is an utterly self-effacing expression of his friendship toward us. And in the days of Holy Week which will follow his expressions of friendship toward us will increasingly be filled with light and love.
Today is the day when we should decide anew to stand with Christ, to want his company, to follow his gestures, his words, his glances. This week will be a time of great light for us.