“As with gladness men of old, did the guiding star behold”

On Sunday 2nd January we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany; the arrival of the three Wise Men, coming to greet and worship the Christ Child, God made Man. This story, as related by St Matthew has an important message.  The visitors were foreigners; we are being told clearly that Jesus had come into the world to save all mankind.

Each of the gifts has its own particular significance; Gold symbolizes Kingship, Frankincense is used as part of an Act of Worship and Myrrh, used in the embalming process, is an advance warning of the trial and crucifixion that are to come thirty-three years later.

We stand at the threshold of a New Year; let us pray that the peace and joy brought to us through our celebration of the momentous event that occurred two thousand years ago in a little village in Palestine  will have given us the strength to endure whatever trials lie ahead in 2022.

 I send to you all my blessings for a healthy and happy New Year.

God Bless

“Oh come, oh come Emmanuel!”

We are now in the season of Advent, when we wait with anticipation for the glorious events that are to unfold on the 25thDecember. Emmanuel means God is with us. We will soon all be rejoicing as we celebrate  our Saviour coming to earth and being born in a humble stable.

 In recent years Advent Calendars have become very popular; however too often they are simply used as a countdown towards the secular festivities and the real significance of the word Advent is lost.

Advent should not be  four weeks of counting down but instead should be four weeks of building up – the readings from the prophets during this period give a sense of the anticipation of what is to come. Listen to the joy in the words of Isaiah “Oh people of Sion behold, the Lord will come to save the nations,” and Zephaniah telling Israel to “shout aloud, rejoice and exult with all your heart.”

How are we observing Advent ourselves? Advent is a time for reflection.  Are we in our personal lives ready to welcome the Christ Child?

I hope that we are all able to look forward with anticipation to a pleasurable time ahead. However let us spare a thought and a prayer for those for whom, for so many different reasons, the Christmas season is not a time of enjoyment but one of sorrow and loneliness.

Let us pray that everyone may have the Christmas that we wish for ourselves.

God Bless

We all know the rhyme which starts “Remember, Remember the 5th November”,  however I am suggesting that we should also be remembering certain other very important days in this month.

 On the 1st is the Feast of All Saints – remembering all those who have departed this life and who are safely in heaven but whose names are not recorded.

On the 2nd we celebrate the Feast of All Souls when we are encouraged to take time to pray for the repose of the souls of all who have passed away that they may all take their place with the saints in heaven.

The 14th is Remembrance Sunday – when we take the time to remember all those who fought and died in war so that we may continue to live in freedom. At St Hilda’s we shall be holding a solemn Requiem Mass.

On 21st we remember our Patron Saint – Hilda, Abbess  of Whitby who did so much to help to establish the True Faith in Britain. 

We could perhaps wish each other a Happy New Year on 28th as we set off into another Church Year on the 1st Sunday of Advent. Let us hope and pray that the changes in the offing in the Diocese will, in whatever form they take, be of benefit to all in our little community.

God Bless

“In the days of Thanksgiving one psalm let us offer, for the saints who before us have found their reward…

 These stones that have echoed their praises are holy and dear is the ground where their feet have once trod”

How the words of this hymn are at this time so appropriate for St Hilda’s, as on the 17th of this month we celebrate the anniversary of our Dedication.

In October 1904 Bishop Knox consecrated St Hilda’s and therefore  in 2021 we shall be celebrating  117 years of service in God’s Name to the people of Prestwich.

St Hilda’s has stood as a bastion of Faith through all those years and we continue today to provide a haven of Welcome and Worship.

The memory of the Dedication reminds us of the debt that we owe to all those parishioners who through the intervening years have helped to preserve and pass on this wonderful heritage. It is our duty to continue this and to ensure that it is always there for the generations still to come.

On Sunday 17th at the Solemn High Mass, along with Canon Denby, I shall be giving thanks for all the blessings that we have received and praying that St Hilda’s  will be always a Beacon of Light and Hope as it continues to serve the needs of our Parish, our Children and  the Community around us.

God Bless

Where has this year gone? Here we are at the start of the season of Autumn as days begin to shorten and we see nature losing its vibrant summer colours and starting to dress in glorious reds and browns.

This is a month when we think of angels, those beings who stand around the throne of God in constant praise and who have the role of messengers of the Almighty. Remember in Jacob’s dream of how he saw a ladder reaching up to heaven with angels carrying messages constantly ascending and descending between heaven and earth.

Chief among the angels are the Archangels, each with a special role. We remember in particular Michael the Warrior who drove Lucifer from heaven, Gabriel the Messenger who brought the wonderful Message to Mary, Raphael the angel of Healing and Uriel, not so well known, the angel of Light. 

In our Sunday Mass we agree to praise God along with the Angels and Archangels.

We each have been given a Guardian Angel, who has the task of protecting us and to whom we can and should turn for help when the problems of everyday life are getting us down.

Let us pray that all the school children and students  who this month  are making a fresh start in new schools, colleges and universities, are given the courage and wisdom to succeed in and enjoy whatever the future holds for them.

God Bless

July

In this month the Church asks us all to reflect on the “Precious Blood” of Jesus.

What an important part of our make-up is our blood; the red liquid that for every moment of our life is flowing around our body through our veins and arteries.

Our blood is essential to life and one of the greatest gifts we can give is to be prepared to shed it to save and protect someone we love.

In the story of the Passion, we read how Jesus was so terrified about what he was going to face he actually sweated blood through his pores. Copious amounts of this Precious Blood were shed for us as He was scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross and then pierced by a spear.

In normal times at every Mass, we commemorate this sacrifice, this shedding of blood for our sake, as we receive this Precious Blood in the form of wine. Let us pray that we will be able to do so again after 19th.

August

On 15th we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. We believe that Mary, the young woman who gave birth to the Son of God, cared for Him as a child and a young man, remained constantly near to him throughout his ministry, witnessed at first hand  his  sufferings and death; that when she died was given the unique privilege of being taken body and soul, straight to heaven.

We thank God that we are now able to join together in worship in Solemn High Mass every Sunday morning.

God Bless

 “O Sacred Heart, our home lies deep in Thee”

Our heart is the source of the blood that is pumped around our body to keep us alive but we also see it in another way as the source of love for one another. How often do we read the phrase “I love you with all my heart”?  There is heartache when we are separated from someone we love and so many are broken hearted when they lose someone dear to them. However, how much more than the love between couples and in families on earth is the love of Jesus for all mankind! We have in church the beautiful statue of the Sacred Heart with His arms spread wide to welcome us all.

On 6th June we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ). We are so lucky to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in St Hilda’s – this has been the case since 1929. The light permanently over the Sanctuary reminds us of this. We have the privilege, when not constrained by the lockdown, to be able to take the Blessed Sacrament to those unable to come into church.

To those of my generation we remember the 6th June as “D Day” when our soldiers and their allies crossed the Channel at the start of the campaign in Europe that led to the defeat of the Nazis.

We also celebrate in this month, on 22nd the feasts of Thomas More and John Fisher who died for their beliefs under Henry 8th, on 24th the baptism of John the Baptist and on 29th Ss Peter and Paul.

Let us hope and pray that June lives up to its reputation and we get plenty of sunshine but also that 21st brings us the news that we are all hoping for – the freedom to return to normal life!

God Bless.

Mother of Christ, Mother of Christ

I toss on a stormy sea.

O lift thy child as a beacon light

To the port where I fain would be.

May, the loveliest month of the year, is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of our Saviour, and our Mother also. She is there, ready to  offer consolation and comfort to all of us, her children. This is terribly  important as we come out of the Pandemic with so many suffering the effects of personal illness and grieving the loss of loved ones.

As we set off into May we are still in Eastertide, continuing to rejoice in the wonderful news of the Resurrection. We are the “Easter People” and through our example in everything that we do or say we should be a witness to this glorious event.

 In this month are some of the major feasts in the church calendar.

The 16th is the Feast of the Ascension when Jesus ascended into Heaven,  and on 23rd we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, giving them the strength and wisdom to go forth to preach the Gospel. We close the month with the Feast of the Holy and Blessed Trinity on 30th.

I extend my best wishes to you all as we draw ever nearer to the blessed day when we will be able to worship together without restrictions; in the meantime, keep safe and keep well.

God Bless.

“Jesus lives, our hearts know well, nought from us his love shall sever.”

We set off into the new month of April in the heart of the most significant seven days in the church’s year – Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday – Jesus and his apostles were gathered together for a meal, as they did every year, to celebrate the feast of the Passover; but this time it was to be so different! Jesus uttered the Words “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” over the bread and wine – an act that is perpetuated every single day by a priest somewhere in the world.

This meal, the Last Supper,  was the start of the momentous story of the Passion; after the gathering in the Upper Room  the tension begins to rise as we see Jesus alone in The Garden of Gethsemane, terrified because of what he was going to endure yet agreeing to go through with it to fulfil the Will of his Father.

The 14 Stations of the Cross take us through the events of the next three days, Good Friday through to Easter Sunday. To many such an account of betrayal, humiliation, brutality and execution would seem an utter failure but as Christians we know that it was just the opposite.  Death was not the end; as on Easter morning the stone was rolled away and our Lord and Saviour rose from the tomb. He has conquered death, the way to heaven has been opened up for all mankind.

I pray that you and your loved ones have a peaceful and joyful Easter and that our lives will soon no longer be overshadowed by this dreadful virus.

God Bless

On the 17th of February, the first day of Lent, we set out on a journey together, a journey that we shall be following throughout this month of March until we arrive together on 4th April  at the glorious feast of Easter.

This Lenten journey of forty days is a time for reflection, as we travel we need to look at ourselves to see clearly just what we need to do to keep to the right path and not be tempted to go astray.

We are reminded how Jesus went through just such a period of forty days in the desert, undergoing temptations from the devil as he prepared himself for his three years of ministry.

When we set out on a long journey, we are obliged to stop at intervals in order to take on refreshment to keep us going. As we make our Lenten journey we should be doing the same; here at St Hilda’s we have the opportunity for spiritual “refreshment stops” with the weekly prayer sessions every Saturday in church and the Stations of the Cross on Zoom each Sunday evening. Please take advantage of these if you are able.

We are all travelling this road together, let us extend a helping hand in whatever way we can to those in need, those struggling to keep up or even straying from the right path. We can do this through prayer or in deeds of charity, so that we will all be able to arrive together  at the end of this forty day journey to celebrate   the Resurrection of the Lord.

God Bless