Gratitude pours in for Pope’s nearness during lockdowns
Pope Francis’ live-streamed daily Mass during COVID-19 lockdowns has prompted expressions of heartfelt appreciation from many Catholics around the world. The faithful of all religions are invited by the Pope to spiritually unite in prayer, fasting and works of charity “to implore God to help humanity to overcome the coronavirus pandemic”.
The Way to the Father
5th Sunday of Easter, 10 May 2020
The last verses of John’s chapter 11 mark the beginning of Jesus going up to Jerusalem. His disciples are troubled by this and Jesus asks them to deepen their belief in him. Believing in him is believing in God (Jn 14:1). Thomas expresses his doubts despite Jesus’ assurances and Jesus responds, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life”. We go to the Father through Jesus, who tells us that The Way is the practice of loving God and others. Such a path represents a daily urgent demand. Being with Jesus, is being with the Father. Life in the Spirit is somewhere between the old world that still seems to have vitality and authority and God’s new world, voiced in today’s readings. From within our ordinary round of life we dare to voice the Word of God. And like Peter we stand in fear and trembling when the Word opens access to the real power for life-giving, or sanctifying grace. We also sense fear and feel the need to suppress change. We note too, our fearful society, which has few enough occasions for hosting the ambiguity we experience here when God’s newness is given.
This booklet gives a brief context and some commentary on each of this Sunday’s readings and the psalms. Because of these extraordinary times brought about by isolating ourselves to break the transmission of the Coronavirus, we have the opportunity to read God’s Word in a moment of prayer and allowing it to enlighten and renew us through reflection. We express our sincere thanks to Father Bill Fletcher for the shared resource.
Good Shepherd Sunday
4th Sunday of Easter, 3 May 2020
A true shepherd, Jesus said, knows his sheep well and leads them with care. And Jesus, the good shepherd, goes so far that he “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
We can read Jesus’ words and learn something for ourselves. For
we are all shepherds for God’s people in one way or another. We
are all called to care for his people by following in Jesus’ footsteps.
Our “flock” may include our children, our parents, or our catechism
class. We may be quiet shepherds welcoming a new family at
church or mentoring a co-worker. But no matter who is in our flock,
we need to remember that the sheep belong to Jesus and not to us.
He treasures each one of them and wants us to reflect his own love
So ask yourself, “How well do I know my sheep? Do I know the
challenges my loved ones are facing?” Sometimes we are so busy
with our own affairs that we overlook the hurt, weariness, or fear in
someone right next to us. But following Jesus’ example, we can set
aside our concerns, “call them by name,” and listen to their needs.
Perhaps we can even lead them to a place of peace. That’s one
small way to be a shepherd for God’s sheep.
This Sunday is traditionally dedicated for us to pray in a special way for the ordained leaders in our Church, both those who are now leading us, and those who will continue to lead us in the coming years. We pray for those in ministry. We pray for young men who are called to serve as ordained ministers in the Church. Many who are called to the priesthood. May our prayers and lives help these young men to understand and value the challenges and respond to the call to this vocation.
In trying moments like these amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we lift up our family and loved ones in prayers.
We are invited to intensify our love of God and love of our neighbour as we weather together storms of unprecedented times. In the words of Pope Francis, this is “a time to choose what matters in life and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.” May we be able to use prayers and daily reflections to further strengthen our faith and embrace hope.
Prayer for our time
God our Father, we ask your protection against the Coronavirus that has claimed lives and affected many.
We pray for your grace for the people tasked with studying the nature of this virus and of stemming the tide of its transmission.
Guide the hands and minds of the medical experts to minister to the sick with competence and compassion, and guide government and private agencies to find a cure and solution to this epidemic.
Palm Sunday Mass Readings and Prayers
They took palm branches and went out to meet him shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel!”
This Palm Sunday, we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as our Saviour and King. Marking the beginning of the Holy Week, the liturgy invites us to share in the joy of the people who shout praises to the Lord, which then fades into the sorrow of Christ’s Passion. Pope Francis noted that the celebration combines “stories of joy and suffering, mistakes and successes, which are part of our daily lives as disciples.”
Many of us around the world will be celebrating Palm Sunday at home during Covid-19 lockdown. We have prepared readings and prayers that can be shared among family members to help us prepare for Mass together with our families and welcome Jesus into our daily lives in a more intimate way as we share in the agony of His cross and His powerful resurrection as modern day disciples.
Bishops leave a message for parishioners as New Zealand embarks on lockdown
including the availability of priests, receiving sacramental graces whilst in quarantine through a Plenary Indulgence, and the fact that at the heart of our faith God comes to us.
In a powerful takeaway, “these next few weeks of lockdown offer us an unprecedented and extraordinary opportunity for growth. Let us unite in embracing this opportunity to grow together seeking greater maturity in faith in Jesus Christ within the Catholic Church.”
MESSAGES FROM THE POPE
Extraordinary moment of prayer with Pope Francis
Pope Francis led a prayer service at St Peter’s Basilica whilst meditating on the calming of the storm from the Gospel of Mark.
The disciples in the Gospel were alarmed in a stormy sea; however, in spite of the tempest Jesus sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father. He then wakes up, calms the wind and the waters, and poses to his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”
Pope Francis notes that like the disciples, “we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm” as the world battles with the coronavirus outbreak. “The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities.”
We are being called to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing – “a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”
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We are called by the Lord to revive our faith: to take courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, to be moved by the Spirit, to rediscover the life that awaits us, to foster the grace within us, to rekindle hope.
Pope addresses what to do when many can’t get to Confession
Francis cites the Catechism to encourage the faithful to express contrition, and make resolve to return to Sacrament as soon as it becomes possible.
Pope Francis took up the question that many of the faithful are wrestling with as they are under lockdown with churches closed: What about confession?