Next Events


Ecumenical prayer breakfast at the ‘Old Stables’, Horncastle on Saturday 15th December 9-10am. All welcome.

ST HUGH’S CHURCH, LINCOLN - 125TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION Bishop Patrick will celebrate the 10am Mass on Sunday, 16th December.  There will be  refreshments in the church hall after Mass, and then at 4pm you are invited to join Fr Matthew, former priests and seminarians of St Hugh’s for Vespers.

Faith Hub – for Lincolnshire Catholics We are looking for young adults (including parents) aged 18 – 35 who are interested in building a community of like-minded Catholics in our county. Meetings are held every two weeks, the first being Sunday 16th September 2018 at 7pm at Our Lady of Lincoln RC Church, Laughton Way, Lincoln LN2 2HE. Please contact info.faithhub@gmail.com for more information. Please come and join us!

Horncastle Churches Together Centering & Intercessory Prayer Group
every 2nd and 4th (not 5th) Monday of each month (except public holidays)
7.00pm till 9pm at St Mary's Church of England Church, Horncastle 
"Come and see!" (Jn1:39,46;4:29)
email Deacon James Hunter for details : james.hunter200@btinternet.com
Centering Prayer  & Contemplative Meditation: Open to All
We meet from 7.00 pm till 9.00 pm, on Tuesday 4th December only then Tuesday 22nd Jan and then every 1st & 4th (not 5th) Tuesday of each month, at the Lion's Den, 26A Silver Street, Conningsby, LN4 4SG. Free parking is available in the Silver Street Car Park. Coming out onto Silver Street, driveway entrance to Lions Den bungalow is across the road, between Ginger Cow Coffee Shop and Doctor’s Surgery.
"Come and see!" (Jn 1:39,46;4:29)
For more details, and any questions or enquiries, etc, please contact Rev Sue Allison (email: susan.333allison@btinternet.com) and/or Rev Deacon James Hunter (email: james.hunter200@btinternet.com)
Centering Prayer & Contemplative Meditation: Open to All
We meet on Thursday 15th & Monday 26th November

We normally meet twice-monthly, on  2nd Thursday and 4th (not 5th)Monday evenings, from 6.30pm till 8.30pm (6.30pm tea/coffee for 7.00pm start),  in St Mary le Wigford, Church  of England, meeting room (access via main Church door then just left of café serving area), St Mary Street, Lincoln LN5 7JB: next to Train Station (public parking £2: 6.00pm - 2.30am); near to Bus Station; also Tentercroft St & Multi - Storey car parks
"Come and see!" (JN1:39,46;4:29)
For more details, and any questions or enquiries, etc, please contact any of the following :-   Rev Deacon James Hunter (R C Lincoln Deanery) email james.hunter200@btinternet.com &  Rev Jeremy Cullimore (Vicar in charge of Lincoln High Street Churches) email jscullimore@btinternet.com .

Click here for information on Programme, Information sheet and Taize chants
Centering Prayer & Contemplative Meditation: Open to All
We meet from 7.00pm till 9.00pm, on 3rd & 18th December, then every 1st Monday & 3rd Tuesday of each month, (except English public holidays), at St John the Evangelist  C of E, Bigby Street, Brigg DN20 8ED
"Come and see!" (Jn 1:39,46;4:29)
For more detail, and any questions or enquiries, etc. please contact Fr Owain Mitchell email briggvicarage@btinternet.com and/or Rev Deacon James Hunter email : james.hunter200@btinternet.com
Centering  Prayer & Contemplative Meditation: Open to All
Meets from 7.00pm till 9pm, on Tuesday 11th December only, then normally every 2nd Tuesday & 4th (not 5th) Thursday of each month, thereafter, at St James' C of E, Westgate, Louth LN11 9YE
"Come and see!" (Jn1:39,46;4:29)
For more details and any questions or enquiries etc please contact Rev Nick Brown nick.brown@teamparishoflouth.org.uk and/or Rev Deacon James Hunter for : james.hunter200@btinternet.com

Events and  COURSES coming up in the
Diocese of Nottingham

Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies 2019

NEW CCRS COURSE 2019 / 2020
 What is the CCRS?
The Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) will provide general theological knowledge and offer a better understanding of the Catholic faith. It can help participants to increase their practical application of the faith in their ministry in the Church. It provides the means to accurately and effectively communicate the principles of Catholic teaching
You can join at any time. Complete and return an  application form.

Core Modules Saturdays: 10 am—3.30 pm

Specialist Modules: 9.30 am—4.30 pm 

Further  specialist modules 2020/21
 What’s involved? Two year course; 8 modules of 10 hours each  over 2 Saturdays (6 core modules & 2 specialist modules) , 100 % attendance, each module is assessed by an assignment of 1500 words (to achieve the CCRS qualification)
How much does it cost? £55 per module (concessions £45) or £360 for the whole course, plus £25 registration fee , schools/ parishes may fund the course.
 For more information on CCRS visit the national website
Course currently at: Our Lady & St Patrick in the Meadows, Nottingham. NG2 1JQ
Regular Events

First Sunday Coffee - Woodhall Spa - Parish Hall after Mass
On the first Sunday of each month there will be home made cakes available, 50p per slice, to be enjoyed with the usual tea & coffee.  All proceeds from tea, coffee and cake will go to Parish Funds.
There will be no 'Cake Sunday' next weekend (December). Our bakers will be very busy during the next couple of weeks with other parish events and we don't want to overstretch them!
Monday - Woodhall Spa - 10.45am to 12.15am - weekly in a parishioners home, Woodhall Spa & Horncastle Communities of Enquiry
Christian Meditation: John Main's method and The Cloud of Unknowing
if you are interested in attending or would like more details please contact Deacon James: email james.hunter200@btinternet.com
Monday - Woodhall Spa - Parish Hall, Woodhall Spa & Horncastle Communities of Enquiry new group meeting weekly: from 12.30pm till 2.00pm, fortnightly, alternating with 4.30pm till 6.00pm, fortnightly. Topics include "The Cloud of Unknowing", Christian Meditation and Centering Prayer.
if you are interested in attending or would like more details please contact Deacon James: email james.hunter200@btinternet.com
Monday - Woodhall Spa - 2.00pm till 4.00pm Woodhall Spa old group meeting in a parishioners home Woodhall Spa & Horncastle Communities of Enquiry for fortnightly Bible Study (Current Topic: "Acts of  the Apostles"), alternating with the new group
if you are interested in attending or would like more details please contact Deacon James: email james.hunter200@btinternet.com
Monday Horncastle Churches Together Centering & Intercessory Prayer Group every 2nd & 4th Monday of each month - 7.00pm till 9pm at St Mary's Church of England Church, Horncastle
"Come and see!" (Jn1:39,46;4:29)
email Deacon James Hunter for details : james.hunter200@btinternet.com
First Tuesdays - We meet  Tuesday 4th December at 2.30pm. in the hall to chat about life in general or any specific topic you care to raise.  Tea/coffee & cake/biscuits

Thursdays - Louth -  Louth Communities of Enquiry meets on Thursday 8th November, from  10.15 to 12.45 in Parish Centre small room at St James. The topic will be "Acts of the Apostles . For information see Lesley Dover, Pat Tiger & Deacon James, email: james.hunter200@btinternet.com.
Thursday - Horncastle - every 2nd Thursday afternoon 2.45pm till 4.45pm in a private house Woodhall Spa & Horncastle Communities of Enquiry, for Christian Meditation. contact Deacon James: email james.hunter200@btinternet.com
Current Venues and Meeting Times.

We are currently meeting as follows, but can add to, or change, our topics, venues and meeting times, on request, in consultation with others, and if, or as, other members join us:- 

Woodhall Spa:  

1.Christian Meditation and “The Cloud of Unknowing” – meets every Monday from 10.45am till 12.15am.  

2.Topics include "The Cloud of Unknowing", Christian Meditation and Centering Prayer. - meets Monday in the Parish Hall weekly: from 12.30pm till 2.00pm, fortnightly, alternating with 4.30pm till 6.00pm

3. “Acts of the Apostles” – meets on Monday fortnightly, from 2.00pm till 4.00pm. 


1. “Christian Meditation” – meets fortnightly Thursday afternoons 2.45pm till 4.45pm 

2. Topics include "Carthusian Prayer" and Christian Meditation - meets monthly 2.30pm till 4.30pm


For Names and Addresses of those Parishioners hosting these events, in their homes, FIRST contact Deacon James Hunter at james.hunter200@btinternet.com,  

For a FULL List of the Topics on offer contact Deacon James (Email above) for a preliminary chat.


Also SEE our weekly Advertisement in the Parish Newsletter.  


I look forward to hearing from you,


Yours, “in the Lord’s Vineyard”,


Deacon James Hunter 
Travelling away or going on holiday?
Click on the link below to find out Churches and Mass times at or near your destination
Christ the King


Remembrance Sunday 2018


Remembrance Sunday falls on the Sunday nearest Armistice Day, 11 November, which marks the end of the First World War.

On this day we remember all those who gave their lives for their country, all who suffered and died through acts of war and those who were left behind to grieve and mourn.


O God, merciful and strong,
who crush wars and cast down the proud,
be pleased to banish violence swiftly from our midst
and to wipe away all tears,
so that we may all truly deserve to be called your children..

Roman Missal

Commemoration of All Souls
2nd November

Solemnity of All Saints
1st November

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15th August


The Transfiguration


Saints Peter and Paul

Solemnity of the birth of St John the Baptist

Corpus Christi

Trinity Sunday




Our Lord's Ascension


HOLY SATURDAY  - Easter Vigil



Way of the Cross 30.03.18

Celebration of the Passion of our Lord 30.03.18











Welcome to Woodhall Spa Parish
Serving Woodhall Spa, Horncastle, Coningsby and Metheringham
Parish Priest Fr John O'Donnell
Our Lady and St Peter
15 Cromwell Avenue, Woodhall Spa, LN10 6TH
Tel 01526 352245 
    Parish Map                                  Diocese of Nottingham
                   The Catholic Church in England and Wales
                      Vatican website 
Pope Francis Twitter
       For todays Mass Readings click on the date link below   

Daily Readings - read the entire New Testament over a 2 year period
(reading plan courtesy of Gideon International)

Pope Francis: December 2018
In the Service of the Transmission of Faith

If you want to share your faith through the word, you have to listen much and carefully.
Let us imitate the style of Jesus, who adapted himself to the people He had in front of Him so as to bring God’s love to them.
Let us pray that people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time, in their dialogue with people’s hearts, and above all, by listening much.

Pope Francis: 11 November 2018
In the Service of Peace


We all want peace. It is desired above all by those who suffer its absence.
We can speak with splendid words, but if there is no peace in our heart, there will be no peace in the world.

With zero violence and 100 percent tenderness, let us build the evangelical peace that excludes no one.

Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.

Pope Francis: 01.11.18 - Solemnity of All Saints


The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich.  The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the proud . The Gospel says blessed are the pure , while the world says blessed are the sly and pleasure seekers.

These brother and sister saints today are not asking us to listen to the Gospel one more time but rather to put it into practice, to set out on the way of the Beatitudes. 
It is not a question of doing extraordinary things, but of following this path every day that takes us to heaven, to our families, to our homes.

Pope Francis: October 2018 
The Mission of Religious


Religious, with their prayer, poverty, and patience, are essential to the Church’s mission.
More than ever, with the challenges of today’s world, we need their complete dedication to proclaiming the Gospel.
Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary enthusiasm and let us pray that consecrated religious men and women may bestir themselves, and be present among the poor, the marginalized, and those who have no voice.

Pope Francis: October 2018 Pray for the Church


The Pope asks us to pray a Rosary daily that the Virgin Mary protect the Church in these times of crisis, and to pray to St. Michael the Archangel that he defend the Church from the attacks of the devil.

Pope Francis:  September 2018 Young People in Africa

Africa is a wealthy continent, and its greatest, most valuable resource is its young people.
They should be able to choose between letting themselves be overcome by difficulty or transforming the difficulty into an opportunity.
The most effective way to help them in this choice is to invest in their education.
If young people don't have the possibility of education, what future can they have?
Let us pray that young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries.

1st September to 4th October Season of Creation
Pope Francis invites all to pray on the fourth World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, September 1, and says he is thankful for the “various initiatives” planned in various places by various religious denominations.

Pope Francis visit to Ireland 25-26 August
World meeting of Families in Dublin

Pope Francis: August 2018 The treasure of Families


When speaking of families, often the image of a treasure comes to my mind.
Today's rhythm of life, stress, pressure at work, and also the little attention paid by institutions, could put them in danger.
It's not enough to talk about their importance: it's necessary to promote concrete means and to develop their role in society with a good family policy.
Together, let us ask Jesus that any far-reaching decisions of economists and politicians may protect the family as one of the treasures of humanity.

Pope Francis: July 2018   Priests and their Pastoral Ministry

That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.
Pope Francis - July 2018
The tiredness of priests... Do you know how often I think about it?
Priests, with their virtues and defects, work in many different areas.
Working on so many active fronts, they cannot remain inactive after a disappointment.
At such times, it's good for them to remember that the people love their priests, need them, and trust in them.
Let us pray together that priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.

Pope Francis: June 2018   Social Networks


The Internet is a gift of God, but it is also a great responsibility.
Communication technology, its places, its instruments have brought with it a lengthening of horizons, a widening, for so many people.
It can offer immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.
May the digital network not be a place of alienation. May it be a concrete place, a place rich in humanity.
Let us pray together that social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences

Pope Francis: 25.05.18  Read the Gospel every day

Read the Gospel every day

In a video message to the II National Youth Meeting taking place in Argentina, Pope Francis invites young people to read the Gospel for at least two minutes a day, and he reflects on presence, communion, and mission
He invited them to carry a small book of the Gospels with them and to read it when they’re on the bus or sitting at home. It will change their lives, he said. “Why? Because you will encounter Jesus. You are encountering the Word

Pope Francis May 2018: The Mission of the Laity


That the lay faithful may fulfil their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.

Pope Francis - May 2018

Lay people are on the front line of the life of the Church.
We need their testimony regarding the truth of the Gospel and their example of expressing their faith by practicing solidarity.
Let us give thanks for the lay people who take risks, who are not afraid and who offer reasons for hope to the poorest, to the excluded, to the marginalized.
Let us pray together this month that the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, the mission that they received in Baptism, putting their creativity at the service of the challenges of today's world.

Pope Francis 19.03.18  Gaudete et Exsultate


The Holy Father Pope Francis has released the Apostolic Exhortation 'Gaudete et Exsultate' on the call to holiness in today's world.

There is an emphasis on the document being practical and useful in modern times and it is not intended to be an academic or doctrinal text per se. As its accompanying summary document states, its goal is "to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time."

The call to holiness in one that cries out to all of us in our daily lives. Gaudete et Exsultate encourages us to take inspiration from the 'Saints next door' - people who may not be officially canonised but can be decisive in bringing about change. Pope Francis quotes Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross:

"The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night. But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed."

Holiness is described as the "most attractive face of the Church" and is attainable despite the challenges of everyday life. Pope Francis wants people to know that they don't need special education or qualifications, nor to have taken religious vows to be holy - just an open
heart and a desire to spend some time with the Lord in prayer and by reading the Gospel. He also wants people to know that the Church makes available everything they need to become holy.

A far reaching and accessible document, 'Gaudete et Exsultate' examines many subjects tied in to our relationship with Christ - prayer, reading scripture, helping others, maintaining and upholding human dignity not to mention challenges to holiness such as the danger of gossip.

That economists may have courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.
The economy cannot attempt only to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.
It must follow the path marked out by business leaders, politicians, thinkers, and leaders in society who place the human person in first place, and do everything possible to ensure that there are opportunities of dignified work.
Let us raise our voices together, asking that economists may have the courage to reject an economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.

Pope Francis: 01.04.18 Urbi et Orbi


Pope Francis: 28.03.18 Holy Wednesday

Dear brothers and sisters: Tomorrow begins the Church’s celebration of the Paschal Triduum, in which we re-live the great mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection.  The Gospel message that Jesus died for our sins and rose to new life is a source of joy and hope for all the world.  At the same time, it is a summons to our responsibility and mission as the Lord’s followers to proclaim the victory of the Risen Jesus by our lives.  In Baptism, we were given a share in Christ’s passover from death to life.  Each of us has been called to live fully this new life in union with him and in imitation of his loving concern for the least of our brothers and sisters.  In the poor, the suffering, the lonely and all those in need, we are asked to see the face of Jesus, and to become, in him, a means of redemption and hope, life and resurrection for our world.  May Mary, who knew both the sufferings of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, obtain for us the grace to be united ever more fully to the Risen Lord and to reflect in our lives the reconciling and transforming power of his divine love.

Pope Francis : March 2018 Formation in Spiritual Discernment
The Church today needs to grow in the ability of spiritual discernment. There are many ways of living life well, using it for serving human and Christian ideals. We were created by God out of love and to love. Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to “read within” his or her life, and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission. The times in which we live demand that we develop a profound capacity of discernment… To discern, from among all the voices we hear, which is the Lord’s voice, which is the voice of Him who guides us to the Resurrection, to Life, and the voice that frees us from falling into the “culture of death. Let us pray together that the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.

Pope Francis: Message for Lent 2018

Pope Francis: 01.02.18 Prayer Intentions for February 2018
Say "No" to Corruption
What is at the root of slavery, unemployment, and disregard for nature and goods held in common? Corruption, a process of death that feeds the culture of death.
Because the thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.
Corruption is not countered with silence.
We must speak about it, denounce its evils, and try to understand it so as to show our resolve to make mercy reign over meanness, beauty over nothingness.
Let us pray that those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.

Pope Francis visit to Chile and Peru 
15th to 22nd January 2018


Pope Francis: 04.01.18 Prayer Intentions for January 2018

Pope Francis: 25.12.17 Urbi et Orbi

The sign of Christmas has also been revealed to us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Lk 2:12). Like the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we welcome in the Baby Jesus the love of God made man for us. And may we commit ourselves, with the help of his grace, to making our world more human and more worthy for the children of today and of the future.

Pope Francis: 24.12.17 Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity
Christmas is a time for turning the power of fear into the power of charity, into power for a new imagination of charity. The charity that does not grow accustomed to injustice, as if it were something natural, but that has the courage, amid tensions and conflicts, to make itself a “house of bread”, a land of hospitality. That is what Saint John Paul II told us: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ”
In the Child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers himself to us, so that we can take him into our arms, lift him and embrace him. So that in him we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned .
 In this Child, God invites us to be messengers of hope. He invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality.
Moved by the joy of the gift, little Child of Bethlehem, we ask that your crying may shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering. May your tenderness awaken our sensitivity and recognize our call to see you in all those who arrive in our cities, in our histories, in our lives. May your revolutionary tenderness persuade us to feel our call to be agents of the hope and tenderness of our people.

Pope Francis: 04.12.17 Prayer Intentions for December 2017


Pope Francis Apostolic Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh
26 November to 2 December 2017

World day of the poor 19.11.17

Pope Francis: 03.11.17 To witness to the Gospel in Asia

Pope Francis: 03.10.17 Rights of workers and the unemployed

Pope Francis - Apostolic Journey to Colombia  2017
6 - 11 September


Pope Francis video message 01.09.17
Parishes at the service of the mission

Pope Francis: Prayer intentions for August 2017
 For artists

Pope Francis: Prayer intentions for July 2017
Those distant from the Christian faith

Pope Francis: Prayer intentions for June 2017
Eliminate Arms Trade
Pope Francis Pilgrimage to Fatima 12-13 May 2017


Pope Francis: Prayer intentions for May 2017
Christians of Africa, witnesses for peace

Pope Francis : 28.04.17  International Peace Conference


The only alternative to a culture of civilized encounter is “the incivility of conflict”.
Religion cannot simply be relegated to the private sphere but, at the same time, religion must not be confused with the political sphere or tempted by worldly powers that seek to exploit it.
Faith and violence are incompatible.
At the heart of the law given to Moses, is the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’. Violence, “is the negation of every authentic religious expression” and religious leaders are called to “unmask” violence and selfishness masquerading as sanctity. Together, “Let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred”, upholding instead “the sacredness of every human life”.
If weapons are produced and sold, “soon or later they will be used”. Only by bringing to light “the murky manoeuvrings  that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented”.
For the full address please click on the picture link above.

Pope Francis - Apostolic Journey to Egypt  2017


Easter Mass - Urbi et Orbi 16.04.17


Pope Francis: Prayer intentions for April 2017 - Youth


Pope Francis' prayer intentions for March 2017 - Help persecuted Christians

Pope Francis: Message for Lent 2017

 Pope Francis: 02.02.17 Welcome the needy

 Pope Francis: 11.01.17 Christian hope born of trust in God's word 
 Pope Francis: 09.01.17 Christian Unity 

Pope Francis: 01.01.17 Mary keeps us from being spiritual orphans
Pope Francis: 01.01.17 Fiftieth World Day of Peace
At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”, and make active nonviolence our way of life.
On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.
While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.
In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords"?
Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.
Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.
To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’ comes from God”. He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”. The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.
Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.
The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.
Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”. This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.
The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.
Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”. Violence profanes the name of God.  Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!
If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness. From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.
An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.
I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.
The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family. “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.
Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.
This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”. To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected. Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.
I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”. Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.
As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.
All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”. In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home.  
 “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.
2016: A year with Pope Francis

Pope Francis: 25.12.16 Christmas Message and Urbi et Orbi blessing
Pope Francis: 24.12.16 Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the Child in the manger
"If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the fragile simplicity of a small newborn, the meekness of where he lies, the tender affection of the swaddling clothes. God is there.
With this sign the Gospel reveals a paradox: it speaks of the emperor, the governor, the mighty of those times, but God does not make himself present there; he does not appear in the grand hall of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable; not in pomp and show, but in the simplicity of life; not in power, but in a smallness which surprises. In order to discover him, we need to go there, where he is: we need to bow down, humble ourselves, make ourselves small. The Child who is born challenges us: he calls us to leave behind fleeting illusions and go to the essence, to renounce our insatiable claims, to abandon our endless dissatisfaction and sadness for something we will never have. It will help us to leave these things behind in order to rediscover in the simplicity of the God-child, peace, joy and the meaning of life.
Let us allow the Child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also allow ourselves to be challenged by the children of today’s world, who are not lying in a cot caressed with the affection of a mother and father, but rather suffer the squalid “mangers that devour dignity”: hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants. Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who do have not toys in their hands, but rather weapons.
Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference. Today also the same indifference can exist, when Christmas becomes a feast where the protagonists are ourselves, rather than Jesus; when the lights of commerce cast the light of God into the shadows; when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized.
Yet Christmas has essentially a flavour of hope because, notwithstanding the darker aspects of our lives, God’s light shines out. His gentle light does not make us fear; God who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, born poor and fragile among us, as one of us. He is born in Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”. In this way he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love. He does not come to devour or to command but to nourish and to serve. Thus there is a direct thread joining the manger and the cross, where Jesus will become bread that is broken: it is the direct thread of love which is given and which saves us, which brings light to our lives, and peace to our hearts.
The shepherds grasped this in that night. They were among the marginalized of those times. But no one is marginalized in the sight of God and it was precisely they who were invited to the Nativity. Those who felt sure of themselves, self-sufficient, were at home with their possessions; the shepherds instead “went with haste” (cf. Lk 2:16). Let us allow ourselves also to be challenged and convened tonight by Jesus. Let us go to him with trust, from that area in us we feel to be marginalized, from our own limitations. Let us touch the tenderness which saves. Let us draw close to God who draws close to us, let us pause to look upon the crib, and imagine the birth of Jesus: light, peace, utmost poverty, and rejection. Let us enter into the real Nativity with the shepherds, taking to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds. Then, in Jesus we will enjoy the flavour of the true spirit of Christmas: the beauty of being loved by God. With Mary and Joseph we pause before the manger, before Jesus who is born as bread for my life.
Contemplating his humble and infinite love, let us say to him: thank you, thank you because you have done all this for me."
Pope Francis: 22.12.16 Open your hearts to good news of Christmas
Pope Francis: 07.12.16 In Advent, it is important to reflect on hope
In our times, which seem so dark, we often feel lost in the face of the wickedness and the violence that surround us. We may even feel discouraged, because we feel powerless, and it seems the darkness might never end. But we should never give up hope, because God, with His love, journeys with us, He does not leave us alone, and the Lord Jesus has overcome evil, and opened up the path of life.
Pope Francis Prayer intentions for December
Pope Francis 31.12.15 The Good always win
Today, Pope Francis said, “our eyes need to focus on the particular signs God has given us, to see His merciful love first-hand.” The Holy Father recalled scenes of violence and death that marked the previous year, the untold suffering of many innocent people, the plight of refugees forced to leave their homes, of the homeless, and the hungry. But he also noted the many acts of kindness, love, and solidarity that often go unnoticed, but which should not be obscured by “the arrogance of evil.” “The good always wins,” the Pope said, “even if at times it can appear weak and hidden."
Pope Francis 27.12.15 Feast of the Holy Family
How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer. What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism? Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children? To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day. In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need. These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of every day life.
At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf. Lk 2:51). This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience. Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.
In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.
Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission - the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.
Pope Francis 26.12.15 Foregivenes
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Stephen. The remembrance of the first martyr follows immediately after the solemnity of Christmas. Yesterday we contemplated the merciful love of God, who became flesh for us. Today we see the consistent response of Jesus’ disciple, who gives his life. Yesterday the Saviour was born on earth; today his faithful servant is born in heaven. Yesterday, as today, the shadows of the rejection of life appear, but the light of love — which conquers hatred and inaugurates a new world — shines even brighter. There is a special aspect in today’s account of the Acts of the Apostles, which brings St Stephen close to the Lord. It is his forgiveness before he is stoned to death. Nailed to the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). Likewise, Stephen “knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:60). Stephen is therefore a martyr, which means witness, because he does as Jesus did. Indeed, true witnesses are those who act as He did: those who pray, who love, who give, but above all those who forgive, because forgiveness, as the word itself says, is the highest expression of giving.
We could ask, however, what good is it to forgive? Is it merely a good deed or does it bring results? We find an answer in the very martyrdom of Stephen. Among those for whom he implores forgiveness there is a young man named Saul; this man persecuted the Church and tried to destroy her (cf. Acts 8:3). Shortly thereafter Saul becomes Paul, the great saint, the apostle of the people. He has received Stephen’s forgiveness. We could say that Paul is born by the grace of God and by Stephen’s forgiveness.
We too are born by the forgiveness of God. Not only in Baptism, but each time we are forgiven our heart is reborn, it is renewed. With each step forward in the life of faith the sign of divine mercy is imprinted anew. For only when we are loved are we in turn able to love. Let us remember this, it will be good for us: if we wish to progress in faith, first of all we must receive God’s forgiveness; we must meet the Father, who is willing to forgive all things, always, and who precisely in forgiving heals the heart and rekindles love. We must never tire of asking for divine forgiveness, because only when we are forgiven, when we feel we are forgiven, do we learn to forgive.
Forgiving, however, is not an easy thing, it is always very difficult. How can we imitate Jesus? From what point do we begin to pardon the small and great wrongs that we suffer each day? First of all, beginning with prayer, as St Stephen did. We begin with our own heart: with prayer we are able to face the resentment we feel, by entrusting to God’s mercy those who have wronged us: “Lord, I ask you for him, I ask you for her”. Then we discover that this inner struggle to forgive cleanses us of evil, and that prayer and love free us from the interior chains of bitterness. It is so awful to live in bitterness! Every day we have the opportunity to practice forgiving, to live a gesture so lofty that it brings man closer to God. Like our heavenly Father, may we too become merciful, because through forgiveness, we conquer evil with good, we transform hatred into love and in this way we make the world cleaner.
May the Virgin Mary, to whom we entrust those — and unfortunately there are so many — who like St Stephen suffer persecution in the name of the faith, our many martyrs of today, direct our prayer to receive and give forgiveness. Receive and give forgiveness.
Pope Francis 25.12.15 Christmas message and
Urbi et Orbi blessing
Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Saviour of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end.
When we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God’s glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul says, “to reject godless ways” and the richness of the world, in order to live “temperately, justly and devoutly” (Tit 2:12.
In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.
Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: “Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation” (Ps 85:8).
Pope Francis 24.12.15: Mercy in your family

Pope Francis 20.12.15 Astonishment -
To celebrate Christmas in a fruitful manner, we are called to pause in “places” of astonishment. And what are these places of astonishment in everyday life? There are three.
The first place is the other, in whom we recognize a brother or sister, because since the birth of Jesus occurred, every face is marked with a semblance to the Son of God. Above all when it is the face of the poor, because God entered the world poor, and it was to the poor, in the first place, that he allowed himself to draw near.
Another place of astonishment — the second place in which, if we look with faith, we actually feel astonishment, is history. So many times we think we see it the right way, and instead we risk reading it backwards. It happens, for example, when history seems to us to be determined by the market economy, regulated by finance and business, dominated by the powers that be. The God of Christmas is instead a God who “shuffles the cards” — he likes doing so! As Mary sings in the Magnificat, it is the Lord who puts down the mighty from their thrones and exalts those of low degree, who fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty (cf. Lk 1:52-53). This is the second type of astonishment, astonishment in history.
The third place of astonishment is the Church. To look on her with the astonishment of faith means not limiting oneself to consider her only as a religious institution, which she is, but to feel her as a mother who, despite her blemishes and wrinkles — we have so many of them! — allows the features of the beloved bride purified by Christ the Lord to shine through. A Church that is able to recognize the many signs of faithful love that God continuously sends her. A Church for which the Lord Jesus will never be a possession to be jealously protected; those who do this err. The Lord Jesus will always be the One who comes to meet her and whom she knows how to await with trust and joy, giving voice to the hope of the world. The Church that calls to the Lord, “Come Lord Jesus”. The Mother Church that always has her doors open wide, and her arms open to welcome everyone. Moreover, Mother Church goes out from her own doors to seek with a mother’s smile all those who are far and bring them to the mercy of God. This is the astonishment of Christmas.
At Christmas, God gives us all of himself by giving his Only Son, who is all his joy. It is only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, who became the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that it is possible to rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for his unpredictable surprise. May she help us to perceive the astonishment — these three wonders: the other, history and the Church — through the birth of Jesus, the gift of gifts, the undeserved gift who brings us salvation. The encounter with Jesus will enable us too to feel this great astonishment. We cannot have this astonishment, however, we cannot encounter Jesus, if we do not encounter him in others, in history and in the Church.
The prophet Zephaniah communicates God’s promise to the people: “I will forgive you”. That is, in order for the People of God, the Church, all of us to be faithful, the first step is to feel we are forgiven.
After the promise of forgiveness, there is also the explanation of “how the Church is supposed to be: ‘For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord’.
The faithful People of God, must have these traits: humble, lowly, with trust in the Lord.
First of all the Church has to be “humble”. In other words a Church should “not show off her powers, her grandeur”. However, “humility doesn’t mean a lethargic, weary person” with a demure expression, because this “is not humility, this is theatrics! This is feigned humility”. True humility, instead, begins “with the first step: I am a sinner”. Iif “you are not able to tell yourself that you are a sinner and that others are better than you, you are not humble.
Thus, “the first step for a humble Church is feeling that she is a sinner” and the same is true for “all of us”. On the other hand, if “any of us has the habit of looking at others’ defects and gossiping”, this is not humility. It is instead “thinking that you are the judge of others”. The prophet says: “I will leave in the midst of you a humble people ”. This, the Pontiff advised, is a grace, and “we must ask for this grace, that the Church may be humble, that I may be humble, that each one of us may be humble.
The People of God “is poor. Poverty is “the first of the Beatitudes”, but what does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? It means “being attached only to God’s treasures”. It is definitely not “a Church that exists attached to money, that thinks about money, that thinks about how to earn money...”. For example, there was someone who “innocently”said to the people that in order to pass through the holy door “you have to make an offering”. This, is not the Church of Jesus, this is the Church of those chief priests, attached to money.
The poor are actually “the treasure of the Church”. You can even be “the head of a bank”, as long as “your heart is poor, not attached to money” and you place yourself “at the service” of others.“Poverty”, is characterized by “this detachment” which leads us to “serve the needy".
The People of God “shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord”.This too brings up a very direct question: “Where do I place my trust? In power, in friends, in money? In the Lord!”
Thus it is this “legacy that the Lord promises us: ‘I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord’.Humble because they feel they are sinners; poor because their heart is attached to God’s treasures, and if they have them it is only to administer them; seeking refuge in the Lord because they know that the Lord alone can guarantee what is good for them”. This is why Jesus had to tell the chief priests, “who did not understand these things”, that “a harlot would enter the kingdom of God before them”. And, as we await the Lord this Christmas, let us ask that he give us “a humble heart”, a heart that is “poor” and above all that seeks “refuge in the Lord”, because “the Lord never disappoints". 
Pope Francis 14.12.15 Hope
In the First Reading, we heard a passage from the Book of Numbers (24:2-7, 15-17) about the “story of Balaam: he was a prophet, but he was also a man and had his defects, even sins. We all have sins, everyone, we are all sinners. But do not be afraid, God is greater than our sins.
Balaam “is ‘hired out’ to a certain Balak, a general and king, who wants to destroy the people of God”, and who sends him “to prophesy against the people of God”. However, “on the journey, Balaam meets the angel of the Lord and his heart is changed, he sees the truth.
It is beautiful,  the way the Book of Numbers tells this story:‘The oracle of Balaam, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened’. In fact, when his heart is changed he converts, his eyes are opened and he sees afar, he sees the truth, with an open heart, with the heart — with good will you always see the truth — and he speaks the truth.
But“what has happened in Balaam’s heart?”. The fact,  is that“he opened his heart and the Lord gave him the virtue of hope”. And “hope is that Christian virtue that we have as a great gift from God that lets us see far beyond, beyond the problems, beyond the pain and difficulties, beyond our sins”. It shows us “the beauty of God".
"Hope”,therefore, is the key word. And when I am with a person who has this virtue of hope and is in a difficult moment in his life — be it a disease, or concern for a son or daughter or someone in the family, or anything —, but he has this virtue, in the midst of pain his eyes have been opened, he has the freedom to see beyond, always beyond”. This is precisely “the hope, the prophecy that the Church gives us today: she needs men and women of hope, even in the midst of problems”. Because “hope opens horizons, hope is freeing, it is not slavery, and it always finds a way to set a situation straight.
In the passage from the Gospel of Matthew (21:23-27) from the day’s Liturgy, , “we see instead men who do not have this freedom, who have no horizons, men who are closed in their calculations”. Such that the chief priests and elders of the people ask the Lord: “By what authority are you doing these things?”. When Jesus poses his next question, before they answer “we do not know”, they make their calculations. “If I say this I have this danger, and if I say that...”. However, “human calculations close the heart, they block freedom”. It is “hope” that “lightens” our load. Therefore,“this hypocrisy of the doctors of the law, which is in the Gospel and which closes the heart: it enslaves us. These men were slaves".
How beautiful is the freedom, magnanimity and hope of a man and a woman of the Church”. And “how awful and how much harm is done by the rigidity of a woman and man of the Church: clerical rigidity, which has no hope.
In this Year of Mercy,  there are these two paths”. On one side there are “those who have hope in the mercy of God and know that God is Father”, that “God always forgives”, and that he forgives “everything”. That“beyond the desert there is the embrace of the Father, forgiveness”. However, on the other hand “there are also those who take refuge in slavery, in the very rigidity of it, and they know nothing of God’s mercy”. Those mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew “were doctors, they had studied, but their knowledge did not save them".
I would like to conclude,  with a story that happened to me in 1992. An image of Our Lady of Fatima had arrived in the diocese. In a large mass for the sick — it was huge, held in a big field, with so many people — I went to confess there. I heard confessions from almost noon until six, when Mass had ended. There were many confessors.
Right when I got up to go to celebrate a confirmation elsewhere, I was approached by an elderly woman; she was 80 years old, with eyes that saw beyond, eyes full of hope. And “I said to her: ‘Grandma, have you come to confess? But you have no sins!’”. The woman responded: “Father, we all have sins!”. I continued the conversation: “Will the Lord, perhaps, not forgive them?”. The woman, strong in her hope, said: “God forgives everything, because if God did not forgive everything, the world would not exist".
So “before these two persons - the free one, the one with hope who brings God's mercy, and the closed, legalistic slave of his own rigidity, let us remember the words of the old lady and the lesson she gave me: God forgives all, He is just waiting for you to get close to Him.
 Pope Francis 06.12.15: Conversion
John the Baptist, preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.
Perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is about an atheist who becomes a believer or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christians. So we are okay”.
But this isn’t true. In thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption — that we are Christians, that everyone is good, that we’re okay — that we must convert: from the supposition that, all things considered, things are fine as they are and we don’t need any kind of conversion. But let us ask ourselves: is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have within us the same feelings that Jesus has? Is it true that we feel as Christ feels?
For example, when we suffer some wrongdoing or some insult, do we manage to react without animosity and to forgive from the heart those who apologize to us? How difficult it is to forgive! How difficult! “You’re going to pay for this” — that phrase comes from inside! When we are called to share joys or sorrows, do we know how to sincerely weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice? When we should express our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel? Thus we can ask ourselves so many questions. We’re not all right. We must always convert and have the sentiments that Jesus had.
The voice of the Baptist still cries in the deserts of humanity today, which are — what are today’s deserts? — closed minds and hardened hearts.
And [his voice] causes us to ask ourselves if we are actually following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” (v. 4). It is a pressing invitation to open one’s heart and receive the salvation that God offers ceaselessly, almost obstinately, because he wants us all to be free from the slavery of sin.
Salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without exclusion, to each one of us. None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved”. No. We must always accept this offer of salvation. This is the reason for the Year of Mercy: to go farther on this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus taught us. God wants all of mankind to be saved through Jesus, the one mediator (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-6).
 Therefore, each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who do not yet know him. But this is not to proselytize. No, it is to open a door. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16), St Paul declared. If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we go to him, how can we not feel the passion to make him known to those we encounter at work, at school, in our apartment building, in the hospital, in meeting places? If we look around us, we find people who would be willing to begin — or begin again — a journey of faith were they to encounter Christians in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we and couldn’t we be these Christians?
I leave you this question: “Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation?” And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we must be courageous: lay low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the ravines dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the paths of our laziness and our compromises.
Pope Francis 02.12.15: The coexistence of wealth and poverty
 is a scandal 

Pope Francis 02.10.15:  Listen with docility to your Guardian Angel

Pope Francis 11.07.15: Young people - the devils team
Saint Ignatius has a famous meditation on the two standards. He describes the standard of the devil and then the standard of Christ. It would be like the football jerseys of two different teams. And he asks us which team we want to play for.
Saint Ignatius says that the devil, in order to recruit players, promises that those who play on his side will receive riches, honor, glory and power. They will be famous. Everyone will worship them.
Then, Ignatius tells us the way Jesus plays. His game is not something fantastic. Jesus doesn’t tell us that we will be stars, celebrities, in this life. Instead, he tells us that playing with him is about humility, love, service to others. Jesus does not lie to us; he takes us seriously.
In the Bible, the devil is called the father of lies. What he promises, or better, what he makes you think, is that, if you do certain things, you will be happy. And later, when you think about it, you realize that you weren’t happy at all. That you were up against something which, far from giving you happiness, made you feel more empty, even sad. Friends: the devil is a con artist. He makes promises after promise, but he never delivers. He’ll never really do anything he says. He doesn’t make good on his promises. He makes you want things which he can’t give, whether you get them or not. He makes you put your hopes in things which will never make you happy. That’s his g ame, his strategy. He talks a lot, he offers a lot, but he doesn’t deliver. He is a con artist because everything he promises us is divisive, it is about comparing ourselves to others, about stepping over them in order to get what we want. He is a con artist because he tells us that we have to abandon our friends, and never to stand by anyone. Everything is based on appearances. He makes you think that your worth depends on how much you possess.
Then we have Jesus, who asks us to play on his team. He doesn’t con us, nor does he promise us the world. He doesn’t tell us that we will find happiness in wealth, power and pride. Just the opposite. He shows us a different way. This coach tells his players: “Blessed, happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”. And he ends up by telling them: “Rejoice on account of all this!”.
Why? Because Jesus doesn’t lie to us. He shows us a path which is life and truth. He is the great proof of this. His style, his way of living, is friendship, relationship with his Father. And that is what he offers us. He makes us realize that we are sons and daughters. Beloved children.
He does not trick you. Because he knows that happiness, true happiness, the happiness which can fill our hearts, is not found in designer clothing, or expensive brand-name shoes. He knows that real happiness is found in drawing near to others, learning how to weep with those who weep, being close to those who are feeling low or in trouble, giving them a shoulder to cry on, a hug. If we don’t know how to weep, we don’t know how to laugh either, we don’t know how to live.
Jesus knows that in this world filled with competition, envy and aggressivity, true happiness comes from learning to be patient, from respecting others, from refusing to condemn or judge others. As the saying goes: “When you get angry, you lose”. Don’t let your heart give in to anger and resentment. Happy are the merciful. Happy are those who know how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, those who are able to embrace, to forgive. We have all experienced this at one time or another. And how beautiful it is! It is like getting our lives back, getting a new chance. Nothing is more beautiful than to have a new chance. It is as if life can start all over again.
Happy too are those who bring new life and new opportunities. Happy those who work and sacrifice to do this. All of us have made mistakes and been caught up in misunderstandings, a thousand of them. Happy, then, are those who can help others when they make mistakes, when they experience misunderstandings. They are true friends, they do not give up on anyone. They are the pure of heart, the ones who can look beyond the little things and overcome difficulties. Happy above all are the ones who can see the good in other people.
The way of the Beatitudes is a way of fulfilment, a path we can really follow, a path which can make our hearts brim over. The saints are our friends and models. They no longer play on our field, but we continue to look to them in our efforts to play our best game. They show us that Jesus is no con artist; he offers us genuine fulfillment. But above all, he offers us friendship, true friendship, the friendship we all need.
So we need to be friends the way Jesus is. Not to be closed in on ourselves, but to join his team and play his game, to go out and make more and more friends. To bring the excitement of Jesus’ friendship to the world, wherever you find yourselves: at work, at school, on WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter. When you go out dancing, or for a drink of tereré, when you meet in the town square or play a little match on the neighborhood field. That is where Jesus’ friends can be found. Not by conning others, but by standing beside them and being patient with them. With the patience which comes from knowing that we are happy, because we have a Father who is in heaven.

Pope Francis 08.02.15 The devil is the root of jealousy, war Pope Francis said the devil is the “father of hate”, “the father of lies” who
seeks disunity. “But God wants unity,” Pope Francis said. “If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God.”
“It is sad when in a family, brothers do not speak because of something stupid,” Pope Francis said.“Because the devil takes stupidity and makes a world,” he continued. “Then these enmities continue and multiply for years. It destroys the family: Parents suffer because their children do not speak to each other, or with the wife of a son…And so this jealousy and envy, it is sowed by the devil. And the only one who can drive out demons is Jesus. The only one who can heal these things is Jesus. So to each of you: Have yourself healed by Jesus.”
Pope Francis 03.02.15 - Daily contemplation of the Gospel
Daily contemplation of the Gospel helps us to have true hope. The Pope 
again urged people to take 10 minutes out of their day to pick up the Gospel and talk to the Lord, rather than waste it on TV soap operas or listening to other peoples’ gossip.
Take up the Gospel, read and imagine the scene, imagine what happens and talk to Jesus, from the heart"."And with this we allow hope to grow, because we have our gaze fixed, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We should all carry out this contemplative prayer. 'But I have so much to do!'. At home, 15 minutes, pick up the Gospel, a small passage, imagine what happened and talk with Jesus about it. So your gaze will be fixed on Jesus and not so much on a TV soap opera, for example. Your ears will be focused on the words of Jesus and not so much on your neighborhood gossip ... ".
Hope comes from this prayer, he said, adding "our Christian life unfolds in that context, between memory and hope": "Memory of our past journey, memory of so many graces received from the Lord. And hope, looking at the Lord, who is the only one who can give me hope. And in order to gaze at the Lord, to know the Lord, we pick up the Gospel and carry out this contemplative prayer.
Today, for example, try for 10 minutes - 15, no more – to read the Gospel, picture it and say something to Jesus. And nothing more. And so your knowledge of Jesus will be bigger and your hope will grow.
The Gospel in your pocket  - Pope Francis 01.09.14
"How do we receive the Word of God?”. The response is clear: “As one receives Jesus Christ. The Church tells us that Jesus is present in the Scripture, in His Word”.
"Always carry a small Gospel with you in your purse, in your pocket, and read a passage from the Gospel during the day. Not so much “to learn” something, but mostly “to find Jesus, because Jesus actually is in His Word, in His Gospel”.  “Every time I read the Gospel, I find Jesus”.
Daily Readings - read the entire New Testament over a 2 year period
(reading plan courtesy of Gideon International)
Pope Francis: Guardian angels our companions on life’s journey
Guardian angels exist
Pope Francis at Mass at Casa Santa Marta. "Guardian angels exist, they are not [the fruit of] imaginative doctrine, but companions that God has placed beside us on our life’s journey."
            We all have an angel
Pope Francis recalled the definitive role of guardian angels in a Christian’s life. "We all have an angel who is always beside us, who never abandons us and helps us not to lose our way."

St Mary's Church of England Church, Horncastle
St Mary's Church Horncastle
Church Lane,
Horncastle LN9 5HW
Mass Time
Sat 6.00 pm
(Sun, Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri, Sat
Masses are at Our Lady and St Peter, 15 Cromwell Avenue, Woodhall Spa, LN9 5HW)
click on the picture of the church to see inside

Live video transmissions by Vatican Media Live   
(Vatican Communication Department - Home page)

Live Catholic TV 
Live Catholic TV


Bishop Patrick recommends the new Pocket Gospels
Priced £4.99 from the Bible Society

Pope Francis has said "Everyone should carry a small Bible or a pocket edition of the Gospels and should find at least a few minutes every day to Read the Word of God"


youth2000uk Youth 2000 seeks to draw young people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, lived at the heart of the Catholic church. www.youth2000.org


CAFOD Harvest Fast Day 2018: Friday 5 October



Sea Sunday 2018 will be celebrated on Sunday 8th July.
Sea Sunday is when we have the opportunity to remember and pray for seafarers, their families and all who support them. On Sea Sunday Catholic Churches around the UK take up a second collection with all funds raised going to the Apostleship of the Sea to support our work. It is a day of remembrance, prayer and celebration, and an opportunity to think about and thank those seafarers who work tirelessly throughout the year bringing us goods we often take for granted.

Collection for Peter's Pence

Peter’s Pence is the name given to the financial support offered by the faithful to the Holy Father as a sign of their sharing in the concern of the Successor of Peter for the many different needs of the Universal Church and for the relief of those most in need.

The faithful’s offerings to the Holy Father are destined to Church needs, to humanitarian initiatives and social promotion projects, as well as to the support of the Holy See. The Pope, being Pastor of the whole Church, is attentive to the material needs of poor dioceses, religious institutes and of faithful in grave difficulties (the poor, children, the elderly, those marginalized and the victims of war or natural disasters; concrete aid to Bishops or dioceses in need, Catholic education, assistance to refugees and immigrants, etc.).

Day for Life 17.06.18 Human Trafficking

Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. Day for Life has covered a number of themes over the years celebrating the gift of life, this year the theme is Human Trafficking.
The proceeds of the Day for Life collection to be held in parishes is used for the promotion of the dignity of the human person.
"The trade in human beings violates the God given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters, and constitutes a true crime against humanity" Pope Francis November 2016
“Organized crime and the illegal trafficking of human beings choose their victims among people who today have little means of subsistence and even less hope for the future… The basic response lies in creating opportunities for integral human development” Pope Francis


“My name is Daia*. I’m from a small town in Edo State, Nigeria. My family were very poor and from a young age I was always chasing a ‘better life’.

At 18 I met and fell in love with Victor*, from Lagos. I was so impressed by his fine clothes and his confidence. Victor suggested going together to London – he said he had friends there and a job for me, cleaning in a hair salon. I was so excited. Victor travelled ahead and I was to follow him.

After a long journey I arrived in Dublin. I had never heard of this place but thought it was just another stop-over on my way to London. Victor had arranged for someone to meet me. This man took me in his car. But we did not go to Victor, or to the hair salon, or to London. He took me to a brothel. I have been here ever since.”

* This is a true story. Names have been changed to protect identities.

Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Jesus tells us, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NJB).

But many people do not have life to the full. They have fallen victim to the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery which are an assault on a person’s innate human dignity. People are not commodities to be traded ruthlessly for criminal profit.

Indeed, this is something that is happening in communities across our country, not just in our big cities. It’s not only happening in brothels and nail bars, but on farms, building sites and factories as well. Nor is this a problem confined to immigrant communities, it is affecting our own citizens too.

Trafficking is a growing problem and the UN estimates that over 40 million people worldwide are in slavery. In the UK alone, it is estimated that every year there are over 13,000 victims of trafficking from all countries.

Criminals exploit some of the most vulnerable and desperate people. We can act together to stop this. It is a crime hidden in plain sight, it’s difficult to investigate, and the police need our
help to identify and stop the traffickers and rescue and support the victims.

How Can We Help?

The Catholic community can make a real difference to help solve this problem – to help them find freedom and live life to the full. There are many organisations working to put a stop to human trafficking and modern slavery. One of these, the Santa Marta Group, works internationally to bring the Catholic Church and law enforcement agencies together to eradicate slavery. To read more visit www.santamartagroup.com

Day for Life Card (A5)

Locally, dioceses, Caritas and other church communities can effect real change for trafficked people living in these areas.

World Communications Day 2018 - 13.05.18


World Communications Day 2018 is celebrated on Sunday 13 May.It's a day when we pray for those who work in the media and have a second collection after Mass to support the Church's important work in this area. Pope Francis, in his message for communications day, focuses on 'Fake News and Journalism for Peace'

World Youth Day 2018

CAFOD Lent Fast Day

Family Fast Day for Lent 2018 takes place on 23 February.

This Lent we are working to combat malnutrition in Zimbabwe. Hunger can kill children, but CAFOD is providing seeds, fencing and farming training for families and communities so that everyone has enough to eat.

Racial Justice Sunday - 28th January 2018
The theme this year is “Belonging”, emphasising that we are called not only to ensure our parishes welcome newcomers, strangers, and those from different backgrounds, but also that all people will know they will find a welcome in our parishes.

PEACE SUNDAY - 14th January 2018
No one can be unaware of the tens of thousands of people around the globe who have been displaced and forced to leave their homes because of violence, war, trafficking and climate-related disasters , so it is no surprise that Pope Francis has chosen the theme ‘Migrants and Refugees – men and women seekers of peace,’ for his 2018 Peace Day message.
Every year Catholics in England and Wales celebrate the Pope’s message on Peace Sunday, promoted by Pax Christi and supported by the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Catholic Bible Sunday 10th December 2017

Catholic Bible Sunday falls on 10 December 2017 and takes the theme 'Welcome the Word'.

In partnership with Bible Society, The Catholic Church in England and Wales has created a resource pack to support scriptural engagement in the Catholic community.

These Scripture-focused materials will help each of us to explore Advent, Christmas and beyond. We want to enable every man, woman and child to engage with the Bible in ways that are appropriate to them.

It's World Mission Sunday on 22 October. This special day, chosen by the Pope, is an opportunity for Catholics worldwide to join together to pray for the missionary work of our Church, and to give what we can to Missio - the Church's official charity for overseas mission - so that parishes in need overseas are supported and sustained.
Missio exists because 40% of the worldwide Catholic Church is too poor to support itself. Missio plays a crucial role supporting the local Church overseas and sharing the light of Christ by training priests, building churches and combating injustice, disease, poverty and exploitation in 157 countries."
The Association for the Propagation of the Faith (APF) assists each and every one of the Catholic Church's 1,069 mission dioceses to provide pastoral care and preach the Gospel effectively.

CAFOD Harvest Fast Day 2017: Friday 6 October

This year, Harvest Fast Day is Friday 6 October, and focuses on the work our partners are doing in El Salvador.

Edelmira and Martir are farmers in El Salvador. They live on and depend on their land. The harvest they reap is used to put food on the table, and sold to buy essential items such as clothes and medicine. 

Our partner, Solidaridad CVX, are working with farmers like Edelmira and Martir to provide training and reintroduce native seeds that were used generations ago. These seeds are strong and able to grow in the warm, rainy climate, ensuring that farmers are able to harvest crops, and with that, the surety that they will be able to provide for their families.

Pope Francis gives thanks for Cardinal Cormac

Pope Francis has written to Cardinal Nichols to offer his "heartfelt condolences" after the death of Archbishop emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

In praising Cardinal Cormac's service to the Church in England and Wales, the Pope lauds the late cardinal's "unwavering devotion to the preaching of the Gospel and the care of the poor, and his far-sighted commitment to the advancement of ecumenical and interreligious understanding."

Home Mission Sunday
On the third Sunday of September the Catholic Church celebrates Home Mission Sunday. This is an opportunity to inspire Catholics and help them to engage with the mission of the Church, whilst supporting the work of the Home Mission Office.

It's the day in the Church's calendar when the Catholic community prays for, celebrates and supports the work of evangelisation in our two countries.

On this day we are encouraged to pray for the work of evangelisation in England and Wales, remembering in our prayers especially those whom we know are distant from the life of faith. Please support the second collection which funds the bishops’ national work of evangelisation. The collection also ensures that the Catholic Faith Centre is resourced to respond to those who have questions about the Catholic Faith.

It is possible to donate online at: catholicnews.org.uk/donate-hms.

Commemorative prayer cards are available to take away.

Please support the work of Home Mission through your prayers and generosity. For more information click here 
God bless you and thank you.


The Missionaries of Africa (also known as “The White Fathers”), are an international Missionary Society of priests and brothers, founded in 1868, by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, Archbishop of Algiers and Carthage in North Africa. The name “White Fathers” comes from their habit. This is based on the traditional North African dress of a white gown (gandoura) and a white hooded cloak (burnous). A rosary is worn around the neck.

CAFOD Emergency Appeals



Justice and Peace Commission General Election 2017 and Pentecost Special

Alleviating Poverty- How do the Election Manifestos stack up?
The Justice and Peace Commission is committed to challenging the avoidable causes of poverty, focussing on working conditions and low pay and on the difficulties faced by benefit recipients and the demonization of benefit recipients. This article reviews the Election Manifestos of the three main political parties to scrutinise their commitment to alleviating the causes of poverty. Click on the picture link above  to read this article.

In a briefing note produced in advance of the publication of the Election manifestos the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysed the impact of tax and benefit changes since May 2015, and future planned changes, on the incomes of different kinds of households.
It found that the most important changes are the cash freeze in most benefit rates, cuts to child tax credit and the continued roll-out of the less generous universal credit. One million families with children and nobody in paid work would be £3,000 a year worse off on average. But it is important to stress that many of the changes will not create immediate losses of benefit income, because of protections for existing claimants. More broadly, the period since 2010 has seen lower-income households lose as a result of benefit cuts and the richest households lose from increases in income tax. But those on average and moderately high incomes, as well as most pensioners, have seen their incomes almost completely protected.
We also know that the forecast rise in inflation to 2.6 per cent in 2018 (and some economists are forecasting 4 per cent) will mean a real terms additional unplanned cut to benefit payments. The freeze in benefits, now coupled with a slowdown in the economy and rising inflation will directly affect those who can least afford it. 

Bishops call on parishes to get involved with community sponsorship scheme for Syrian refugees
Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said "Last year, Pope Francis invited every parish, religious house and monastery in Europe to respond to the growing refugee crisis by offering a place of sanctuary to families fleeing from war and persecution in their home countries. The Pope called on our generosity and solidarity to recognise and act upon our common humanity. Now we are all able to take up that call with the launch of the community sponsorship scheme for Syrian refugees."

Pray for the Victims of Human Trafficking

The Refugee Crisis 
Statement by the Right Reverend Patrick McKinney, Catholic Bishop of Nottingham and the Right Reverend Paul Williams, Anglican Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham

As Bishops, and together with leaders of Christian Churches and other faiths in Nottinghamshire, we encourage the people of our city and county to stand in solidarity with all those who are seeking refuge from countries torn apart by conflict, and to offer them a warm welcome.

For Christians, a vital part of our faith is offering compassion to those who are in need and recognising the fundamental dignity of every human being. Christians are not just asked to pray for others, but to be generous in giving to support and welcome those who are in need.

In a statement on the refugee crisis facing Europe and the Middle East, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, ‘We need a holistic response to this crisis that meets immediate humanitarian need while tackling its underlying drivers.’ For some, that will mean following Pope Francis’ suggestion of welcoming refugees to their homes. For others, it will mean responding positively to appeals, at a national, regional and local level, for money and clothing to give to those who have nothing. We hope that people will be creative in working together across the whole community to do whatever they can to help the refugees who have suffered so much. Many churches have already taken up the opportunity to respond in practical and creative ways.

As a nation, we cannot and should not turn our backs on the needs of so many people, whoever they are and wherever they are from. This country has a proud history of offering hospitality and aid to those who are in need. Our Churches will play their full part in calling upon the Government and local authorities to do as much as possible to welcome refugees to this country, and to work with them to support in practical ways those who settle here.

Rt Rev Patrick McKinney, Bishop of Nottingham
Rt Rev Paul Williams Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
10th September 2015  

The Catholic Church in England and Wales
Refugee Crisis - Open Your Hearts
Catholics in England and Wales are urged to respond to the refugee crisis with both prayer and practical action. Whether it's donating time, skills or money, you can make a valuable contribution to the humanitarian effort. Our response will be coordinated locally through the dioceses.
European Refugee Crisis
The increase in the number of migrants and refugees into Europe is a reminder that governments must do more to address the root causes of conflicts around the world.
Since the start of 2015, more than 200,000 people have arrived in Europe. More than 60 per cent originate from countries affected by conflict such as Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Many are now living in poor conditions, with European governments struggling to provide adequate support.
CAFOD believes that in order to address this crisis, governments around the world must do more to address the root causes of conflicts like the war in Syria, which has forced a staggering 11.6 million people from their homes.
Anthony Neal, CAFOD Humanitarian Policy Analyst, said: “One in three people making the journey to Europe have fled the conflict in Syria, yet this accounts for only a small minority of Syrians who have been made homeless by the war.
“Lebanon, a country one hundred times smaller than the EU, currently accommodates 1.2 million Syrian refugees. That’s over 50 times as many refugees as EU ministers have agreed to resettle in the future..
“The war in Syria is in its fifth year. While the UK has led the world in its humanitarian aid contributions, our help cannot end with money. Without a peaceful resolution to the conflict through a political and inclusive negotiated agreement, the number of Syrians attempting to flee the country will continue to rise."
Thanks to your support, our Church partners in Syria are providing food, medical aid and relief supplies to thousands of people whose lives have been torn apart from the war. Our partners in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey are also supporting Syrian refugees with food, medical support, clothes and safe places to stay.
We also support refugees and people who have been forced from their homes by fighting in many other countries, including Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and  Sri Lanka.
Our sister agencies in the Caritas network are playing a significant role in providing support to newly arrived migrants and refugees in Europe.
Within the European Union: CAFOD is a member of Caritas Europa, which lobbies the European Union about the treatment of migrants and refugees.
In Laudato Si' Pope Francis calls on all of us to care for the world’s poorest people, for future generations and for the earth, our common home.
Inspired by his words, we join with Catholics worldwide, as part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and call on our Prime Minister and on other world leaders to take urgent action to prevent climate change pushing people deeper into poverty.
Click on the link above to sign our petition.
“Have the courage to be happy”
Document on Catholic Spirituality
 The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has released a  document on Catholic spirituality offering essential ingredients to help Catholics deepen their relationship with the Lord.
Bishop Brian Noble, Chair of the Bishops' Conference' Spirituality Committee "The word spirituality now is bandied around in all sorts of different contexts, and can really mean anything from body piercing to prayer, meditation and contemplation. We wanted to introduce some clarity for the benefit of the Catholic community."
Pope Francis 15.06.15: Oil and weapons
 weigh more than human lives
Oil and weapons seem to weigh more on the scale of economic interests than the lives of thousands of Christians in the Middle East, and while proclaiming peace and justice the world tolerates traffickers of death.
The continuing conflict in the Middle East “make us feel the cold of a winter and a frost in the human heart that never seem to end”, and he remarked that “the land in these regions, crossed by the footsteps of those who seek refuge, is irrigated by the blood of so many men and women, including many Christians persecuted for their faith.
Let us open our eyes and look at the misery in the world, at the wounds of so many brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us hear their cry for help. May their cry become ours and together we can break the barrier of indifference that often reigns concealing hypocrisy and selfishness.
It would appear that the world’s conscience has been jolted and it has opened its eyes to the fact that Christians have been present in the Middle East for millennia. There have been a series of initiatives to raise awareness and to reach out to those unjustly affected by the violence.
A further effort should be made to erase seemingly tacit agreements according to which “the lives of thousands and thousands of families - women, men, children, and elderly people – seem to weigh less than oil and weapons on the scale of interests”. So that while proclaiming peace and justice, it is tolerated that traffickers of death continue to operate those lands.
Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches” (ROACO) can help these ancient Christian communities to feel part of the evangelizing mission, offering - especially to young people - a horizon of hope and growth. Without this  it will be impossible to stop “the flow of migration that sees so many sons and daughters of the region set out to reach the Mediterranean coast, at the risk of life”.
Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith leaders have called on Prime Minister David Cameron to urgently increase the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the UK in response to ‘one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of our time’.

Thoughts from Elston Hermitage on Angels
Of all things visible and invisible angels then are part of that invisible side of God's creation and so worthily deserve our attention.
Angels are God's messengers not only for great occasions but we can be assured they are constantly looking after us too as promised by the Psalmist  'The Lord will command his Angels to guard you in all your ways, they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone' (Ps. 91 11-12). Angles then are body and soul guards, and each of                                   us has a guardian angel to watch over us.