Upcoming Activities & Offerings

IMPORTANT DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

December 11th   --   Reconciliation service at Mildenhall 7 pm

December 23rd   --   Carol Service at Brandon 4 pm 

December 23rd   --   Expectant Mothers’ Day 

December 24th   --   6pm Mass at Mildenhall; 11:30pm Mass at Brandon 

December 25th   --   Nativity of the Lord:  9:00 AM MASS AT MILDENHALL, 11:00 AM AT BRANDON 

January 1st 2019   --   World Day of Prayer for Peace

 

Dates for SECOND COLLECTIONS 

December 16th   –-   Diocesan Dependant Priests’ Fund 

Christmas & Advent at St Thomas and St John's

St Thomas', Brandon:

23rd December  --  Carol Service at 4:00 pm

24th December  --  Midnight Mass, carols from 11:30 pm 

25th December  --  Christmas Day Mass at 11 am 


St John's, Mildenhall:

11th December  --  Parish Reconciliation Service 7:00 pm (Confessions)

14th December  --  Early Morning, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 7:30 – 8:30 am 

21st December  --  Early Morning, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 7:30 – 8:30 am 

24th December  --  Christmas Mass especially suited for Children and Families at 6:00 pm 

25th December  --  Christmas Day Mass at 9:00 am

Advent -- Hope

Advent is a time of hope when we should be completely intent upon the joy to come. It invites us to look towards the fulfilment of God’s promise, as envisioned by the Prophets - especially Isaiah. 


“Hope is an ‘insignificant little girl’ besides her two big sisters, faith and charity … nevertheless, it is she ‘who moves the others’. If we did not expect a great good, if we did not believe it possible, we would not be capable of any effort.” [From Advent to Pentecost: Carthusian Novice Conferences (CNC) 1999} 


The confidence and joy hope gives us are crucial. As St Francis de Sales said, it is not enough to do good; one must do it cheerfully. God loves him who gives with joy. 


This joy springs from our confidence that what we hope for will be granted - that is, God giving himself to us with all that he is and all that he has. “God gives himself as God… God is simple … [and] each of us receives this infinite gift …” (CNC) 


Advent began on December 2nd. Let us prepare for this short period of intense hope as we await the Christmas Miracle by reflecting on God’s goodness and our own fragility. Let us review the hope we have and rejoice that Christ’s coming will soon overwhelm our weaknesses with divine love. Let us hope that this year’s Nativity will renew our joy of, and commitment to, spreading the Good News in our community. 

 

What should we be doing during Advent? 

To experience the joy of Advent, we need to engage with it. So, in addition to the events already organised, here are some things you could do: 


Remember the Homeless 


Compile and use a playlist of Advent Music 

Radio 3 has a long list you can download from https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p2q1z 


Buy someone a World Gift from CAFOD. 

These gifts are of practical use to the recipients. They give people life chances and can make the difference between living, learning and growing as opposed to starving, struggling and dying. 

Arrange a special Sunday dinner for family and Friends 


Arrange a special Sunday dinner for family and Friends 

This could also be a good occasion to have a short Advent Prayer session

CHRISTMAS PREPARATIONS

SIGN UP for the POSADA this Advent! 


What is Posada? 

Posada is an old Mexican tradition where young people dressed as Mary and Joseph travelled from house to house asking for a room for the night and telling people about the imminent arrival of Jesus in the weeks leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve they would visit the local church to re-enact the nativity and place figures of Mary and Joseph in a crib. 


Our modern Posada uses nativity figures of Mary and Joseph who travel from place to place. This gives different ‘hosts’ the chance to create their own celebration in their homes or places in the community, worshipping and reaching out to their communities with the real message of Christmas, making room for Jesus in their lives. 


Will you get to be a host to Mary and Joseph for a night? 


What is involved? 

All you need to do is add your name to the Journey Rota which you will find on the notice board for a night that will suit you to ‘host’ Mary & Joseph. Another person from our community will make arrangements to bring the figures to your place at a time to suit both of you. 


For the evening when you ‘host’ Mary & Joseph you can choose to do whatever you like. Why not invite friends and family to sing carols and to talk about the meaning of Christmas? The next day you need to take Mary & Joseph to the next host on the Journey Rota. 


It’s as simple as that. 


REAL ADVENT CALENDAR 

The Real Chocolate Company have once again produced their Advent Calendar, complete with a booklet The Story of Christmas- £3.99 as last year. Place your order now – see Sign up sheet at the back of church. 


CHRISTMAS CARDS

See Poster and talk to Gill Caple, if you wish to buy Traidcraft Cards. 


CHRISTMAS TREES

As usual we will have a Christmas Tree and Crib in both churches this year. Janet Murphy has volunteered again to set up the Crib in St John’s. She’d welcome help. Please speak to her. 


The Tree at St John’s 

Nial Murphy has retired from his role in putting up the Christmas Tree. Thank you, Nial, for years of service. So we need one or two people: 

• to get the tree down from the loft 

• to set the tree up. We have the wherewithal, but now need hands! 

No More Robins!

GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS NOW was the caption splashed across a photo in a magazine I read recently. The photo was of a mouth-watering dish of roast turkey and vegetables, bathing serenely in a tasty gravy. The rich browns and greens of this depiction of seasonal joy were enhanced by bright pinks, pale blues and purples in confections and presents strewn around the photo’s edges. 


No, this is not going to be a rant about the excessive indulgences of this season. It is simply that all of this HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS and CHRISTMAS SHOPPING HAS NOTHING To DO WITH ADVENT! Nor do Robins, Dinosaurs, Deer, Tasteless Jokes or any of the other images that festoon so-called Christmas Cards, If any of this is meaningful, it is that it distracts from the purpose of Advent and the reality of the Nativity. 


This is not an argument to desist from eating luscious food on December 25th, for not buying presents and for not sending Christmas Cards. However if our effort and attention is all on these material things we will build walls within which we will imprison our spirit and become blind to the meaning of Christmas. 


If we are to celebrate the real Christmas, we must take care not to imprison ourselves in this way. We simply don’t need to. Advent and Christmas are occasions for joy because Christ is coming again. We can rejoice because he comes with the best presents of all - Himself, salvation and freedom from self-imposed prisons. Alongside these gifts, everything else is rather puny - and we can leave the robins to enjoy the garden that God has created for them. 


Free Advent Books 

There are devotional books available at the back of the church entitled ‘Walk with Me’. These are excellent devotionals and have readings for each day throughout Advent and until the end of Christmastide. These are free of charge, but normally cost £1 so, if you are able, a donation to offset the cost to the parish would be welcome. 


Free Advent Calendars - for children and families. Each day of the calendar has a different idea to help us grow closer to God in little ways this Advent. Please take one from the back of the church. 

Messiah

The story of the Messiah in the Bible is a complicated one. In the earliest biblical texts, the word originally referred to the king of that time. It later came to refer to some future ruler, then eventually a heavenly redeemer along the lines of the archangel Michael before, in the New Testament, Jesus is born and the mantle of Messiah falls firmly on his shoulders. 


What does ‘Messiah’ mean? 


It means “anointed one.” The term was originally used to refer to the king. Over time the word developed the connotation of something in the future—of a time when there is no longer an actual king. To call somebody anointed meant that he had a special role to play, whether or not any anointing oil was used. 


How did the word messiah come to mean a future saviour figure, as we understand Jesus Christ today? 


2 Samuel, Chapter 7 tells the story of God’s promise to David that one of his sons would always sit on the throne in Jerusalem. That promise held good for about 360 years, which maybe is a reasonable approximation of forever. But then the Babylonians came in and put an end to the native kingship in Jerusalem. The people had a record of a divine promise that something would last forever and had to face the fact that this was actually not the case. This is what gives rise to the hope that God will restore the monarchy, which is to say bring a new messiah, a new anointed king. People’s original messianic expectations were the hope for the restoration of the monarchy. 


It should be noted that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. This was what the crowd called him when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. After his death, his followers concluded, yes, he is the Messiah, but not the kind of messiah that everybody was expecting - i.e. not a political ruler. Jesus made this quite clear to Pontius Pilate when he explained that his Kingdom was not of this earth. Jesus is a messiah who has to die first and then come back - which is what happened. 


So, as we anticipate the Lord’s birth, let us remember that he comes not to stand in for those who rule (in any sense) but to bring forgiveness, and joy as we journey towards paradise.    TC

Next Sunday: Bambinelli Sunday

Over the past number of decades, on the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) children and adults bring their Baby Jesus figures from their homes to St. Peters Square where they are blessed by the Pope. This year we as a parish will celebrate ‘Bambinelli Sunday’ next Sunday 16th December. All, adults and children families are invited to bring the Baby Jesus figures from their cribs at home to be blessed at Mass. This will happen at both Brandon and Mildenhall 

Parish Reconciliation Service

Our Advent Reconciliation service will be on this Tuesday evening, December 11th. A time of prayer and opportunity for individual confessions starting at 7:00pm at Mildenhall. Mgr Peter Leeming will be joining us from Thetford to assist in hearing confessions. Going to confession in the advent season is an excellent way of preparing our hearts to receive Jesus afresh at Christmas. 

Parish Carol Service

Please support our parish carol service at 4:00pm on 23rd Sunday at Brandon. Followed my mulled wine and minced pies! Please invite friends and families along. 

Christmas Cards at Brandon

Instead of purchasing multiple Christmas cards for individuals, parishioners are encouraged if they so wish to write one card to ‘the parishioners’ and display it on the string in the corridor between the porch and the meeting room. Any money saved can then be given to charity. 

Brandon: Icons in Church

Throughout Advent and Christmas an icon will be displayed at the back of the Church at Brandon. Icons contribute to the beauty of worship. They are like windows open on the realities of the Kingdom of God, making them present in our prayer on earth. Although icons are images, they are not simply illustrations or decorations. They are symbols of the incarnation, a presence which offers to the eyes the spiritual message that the Word addresses to the ears. Parishioners are encouraged to venerate the icon, by touching or kissing it and in doing so asking for the intercession of the saint depicted. 

Christmas Masses

Very shortly flyers will be available inviting local people to our Christmas Masses and services. These flyers are designed to go through people’s letterboxes. If you can help with distribution of flyers in your street, please contact Fr Luke.

Red Boxes

Please bring your Red Boxes in next Sunday 

Prize Draw for Free Dental Polish and Christmas Hamper

Please enter our prize draw to win a free dental polish treatment or the second prize which is a Christmas Hamper. Tickets are £1 see Yolande or Liz to buy tickets. 

Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Mildenhall

The Tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel has now been changed for a larger one which is more suitable to our needs and has been moved to central position behind the altar. Please do continue to visit this Chapel to pray in the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle. 

Mildenhall Sacristy: A Polite Notice

In recent weeks the Sacristy at Mildenhall has had various items (bags, boxes, tables etc) left or stored in it that need not be stored there. It’s easy for space to become a bit of a dumping ground when it’s used by multiple users. It is, however, a working sacristy so please could everyone help to keep it tidy and discourage others from storing things in it. Thank you. 

Traidcraft

Our stock of Traidcraft Christmas Cards is now available at heavily discounted prices in both churches. 

  • Just Traid, the Fair Trade shop next to St John the Baptist Church, St John’s Street, Bury, has launched an exciting new menu in their café and a wide range of goods in their shop. Well worth a break to rest your legs and your pocket, when Christmas shopping! 
  • Just Traid are also looking for volunteers to help in the shop and the kitchen. For more talk to Gill Caple. 

House Blessing/Visit

Has your house been blessed? Would you like a home visit and a blessing for you home and family? 


If you would like Fr Luke to visit you in your home and invoke God’s blessing upon your home and family, please speak to him after Mass or call the presbytery. 


Even if your home has been blessed in the past we can still pray together and ask for God’s blessing upon our lives. It’s also an excellent way for priest and parish to get to know each other! 

Book of the Dead

November is a traditionally the month when we pray for the dead. In both of our Churches you will find a ‘Book of the Dead’. 


Please put the names of your loved ones who have died in the book and they will be prayed for throughout November. I will also offer Mass for the Holy Souls at various points in November and they shall be remembered in those Masses. 


To add a name, simply find the page which corresponds to the month that they died and write the name in. Any name of any deceased person can be added, they do not need to have died in this last year nor do they need to be a Catholic. All people alive and dead can benefit from our prayers! 

What is the St Edmund Fund?

The Fund deals with emergency grant applications from families or individuals in need. It also considers support for young people wishing to explore a third world project in their gap years or long vacations. 


The fund is administered by Caritas East Anglia. All applications come from the parish or endorsements from professionals working with applicants. 


Over the past year, the Fund has supported families and individuals facing homelessness or job losses resulting in rent arrears. Others helped have been dealing with the sudden onset of terminal illness. 


For more details go to:  https://www.rcdea.org.uk/caritas-east-anglia/ 

Justice & Peace Group

 

Your local J&P Group brings together Brandon, Mildenhall and Newmarket as our two parishes work together to promote practical action in support Catholic Teaching. We: 

  • Arrange exhibitions & displays;
  • Organise peace vigils;
  • Provide resources to celebrate church festivals (from Easter chicks to Peace Poppies);
  • Run campaigns (e.g. “Share the Journey”) to support people in need in the UK and elsewhere round the world;
  • Raise funds for specific projects;
  • Keep people informed about J&P Matters.

We always welcome new members to the group. You don’t have to come to meetings! You can join by using Skype of Face Time or just receive and respond to our monthly Update. 


Talk to Tom or Gill Caple or more information: 01638 716474 

Nonviolence Works

Nonviolence Works is a network of Christian Peace Organisations, including Pax Christi, committed to furthering peace in communities. The network has evidence that there are ways other than violent intervention to resolve differences and bring an end to wars. It publishes cases that show how nonviolent approaches can and do work. We will publish examples from time to time. Here are three: 


Norway 1942 

Teachers refused to co-operate with the pro-Nazi Quisling regime and, although many endured prison, the obligation to teach Nazi doctrines had to be withdrawn. 


Mozambique 1989-92 

The Rome-based Community of Sant” Egidio brokered an agreement between RENAMO and FRELIMO forces, ending ten years of war. 


Guatemala 2007 

Young stilt walkers used circus acts and carnival in the streets to transform the climate of violence spread by brutal youth gangs. 

RCIA - Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

 Interested in becoming a Catholic? Want to know more about the Church? Perhaps you are a Catholic but missed out on making your confirmation as a youngster. If this is you please consider joining our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) programme. Please fill out a form indicating your expression of interest and return to Fr Luke. 

2019 Catholic Diary

Need a 2019 Catholic Diary? Contact Tom Caple 

Masses & Flowers

Having a mass said or paying for flowers in the church are practical ways supporting the work of the parish. Please give your donations to Fr Luke or Philip Kemp. 

Stole Fees

There is sometimes confusion about what stole fees are and who receives them. 

They are amounts of money given to priests for various services (Baptisms, Marriages, funerals, etc.). In some countries, the priest keeps the fee. In East Anglia, because priests receive a modest stipend (salary) each month, Bishop Peter Smith decreed that fees should be part of the parish income. This is still the situation. 

You too can help our community

Children’s Liturgy

 If you would be willing to help run a children’s liturgy group at Mildenhall or Brandon please speak to Fr Luke. 

Alter Servers

If you have made your first Holy Communion and would like to serve at Mass at either Brandon or Mildenhall, speak to Fr Luke. We need you! 

Lectio Divina

A personal search for dialogue with God

Time set aside for Lectio Divina enables us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm. We discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to the Father, and to accept the embrace that God offers us in the person of his son, Jesus Christ. We can attend "with the ear of our hearts", listening for God's presence in our lives. 

How to Practice Lectio Divina as an individual

• Choose a text of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. This could be a reading for that day’s mass, or a particular book from the New Testament. The amount of text covered is in God's hands, not yours. 

• Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. This could be a few moments focused on your breathing, or a favourite prayer. Use whatever method is best for you and allow yourself to enjoy silence for a few moments. 

Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savour each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the "still, small voice" of a word or phrase that somehow says, "I am for you today." In Lectio Divina, God is teaching us to listen to him, to seek him in silence. 

• Take the word or phrase into yourself. Slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during Lectio Divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. 

• Speak to God. Whether you use words, ideas, or images--or all three--is not important. Interact with God as you would with one you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have found within your heart. Experience God by using the word or phrase he has given you as a means of blessing and of transforming the ideas and memories that your reflection on his word has awakened. 

• Rest in God's embrace. And when he invites you to return to your contemplation of his word or to your inner dialogue with him, do so. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go when they no longer are necessary. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence. 

How to Practice Lectio Divina as a group

 Many prayer groups find it a useful approach to collective study and prayer. 

This form of Lectio Divina works best in a group of between four and eight people. A group leader coordinates the process and facilitates sharing. The same text from the Scriptures is read out three times, followed each time by a period of silence and an opportunity for each member of the group to share the fruit of her or his Lectio. 

• The first reading is for the purpose of hearing a word or passage that touches the heart. When the word or phrase is found, the group's members take it in, gently recite it, and reflect on it during the silence that follows. After the silence, each person shares which word or phrase has touched his or her heart. 

• The second reading (by a member of the opposite sex from the first reader) is for the purpose of "hearing" or "seeing" Christ in the text. Each ponders the word that has touched the heart and asks where the word or phrase touches his or her life that day. Then, after the silence, each member of the group shares what he or she has "heard" or "seen." 

• The third and final reading is for the purpose of experiencing Christ "calling us forth" into doing or being. Members ask themselves what Christ in the text is calling them to do or to become today or this week. After the silence, each shares for the last time, and the exercise concludes with each person praying for the person on the right of him or her. 


Those who regularly practice this method of praying and sharing the Scriptures find it to be an excellent way of developing trust within a group. It also is an excellent way of consecrating projects and hopes to Christ before more-formal group meetings. 

 Based on “How to Practice Lectio Divina” Rev. Luke Dysinger OSB www.beliefnet.com 

Happenings in our Church at Large

Pope Francis ... on Prisoners and Prisons

"I think to myself, 'I, too, could be here.’ That is, none of us can be sure that we would never commit a crime, something for which we'd be put in prison." 


"We all make mistakes in life.  And we all must ask forgiveness and make a journey of rehabilitation so we don't make them again."


“It must be kept in mind that penal sanctions have the aim of rehabilitation, while national laws should consider the possibility of establishing other penalties than incarceration. In this context, I would like once more to appeal to governmental authorities to abolish the death penalty where it is still in force, and to consider the possibility of an amnesty." 


"Losing our freedom is not the same thing as losing our dignity.  That is why we need to reject all those petty clichés that tell us we can't change, that it's not worth trying, that nothing will make a difference."


“Prisoners who are re-entering civic society ought not be punished anew by neglect, indifference or, worse, contempt.” 

Pope Francis ... on our Catholic Church's Mission

 If one’s work as a Catholic is not united to Christ Jesus, it is no longer the “mission” to which the Church is called, Pope Francis told a group of religious brothers on Monday 29tth October. 

“Let us not forget that the condition of every mission in the Church is that we are united to the Risen Christ as branches to the vine. Otherwise what we do is social activism,” the pope said Oct. 29. 

“This is why I repeat to you the exhortation to remain in [Christ],” he continued. “First of all, we need to let ourselves be renewed in faith and hope by Jesus alive in the Word and in the Eucharist, but also in sacramental forgiveness. We need to be with him in silent adoration, in lectio divina, in the Rosary of the Virgin Mary.” 

Pope Saint Paul

On October 14th Pope Francis canonised Pope Paul VI (1963-78). Pope Saint Paul oversaw the Vatican Council, making numerous reforms. 

St Oscar Romero

On October 14th, Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1917 – 1980) was canonised by 

Pope Francis. St Oscar lived almost all of his life in El Salvador. 

On 23 February 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. Welcomed by the 

government, many priests were disappointed, especially those openly supportive of 

liberation theology. Progressive priests feared that his conservative reputation would 

negatively affect commitment to the poor. 


However, just 17 days after his appointment, something happened which had a profound effect on him. Fr. Rutilio Grande a personal friend who had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor, was assassinated. St Oscar later said: "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, 'If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.' Romero urged the government to investigate, but they ignored his request. Furthermore, the censored press remained silent. 


He devoted the rest of his life to defending the vulnerable against the violence and cruelty of what became a Civil War. His sermons and broadcast speeches created many enemies in a country where assassination was commonplace. In March 1980 he urged soldiers who were Christians to keep to their faith and not follow orders to unjustly persecute and kill. The next day, saying mass at a hospital chapel, he was shot and killed. The revulsion and demands for justice raised by Salvadorans and the International Community have not yet led to the murderers being identified. 


When he was beatified, Pope Francis said of him: "His ministry was distinguished by his particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.” Hailed as a hero by supporters of liberation theology, St Oscar, according to his biographer, Jesus Delgardo, "was not interested in liberation theology" but faithfully adhered to Catholic teachings on liberation and a preferential option for the poor, desiring a social revolution based on interior reform. 


St Oscar agreed with the Catholic – and not the materialist - vision of liberation theology. A journalist once asked him: 'Do you agree with Liberation Theology' And Romero answered: "Yes, of course. However, there are two theologies of liberation. One is that which sees liberation only as material liberation. The other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI… The most profound social revolution is the serious, supernatural, interior reform of a Christian. The liberation of Christ and of His Church is not reduced to the dimension of a purely temporal project. It does not reduce its objectives to … a material well-being or only to initiatives of a political or social, economic or cultural order. Much less can it be a liberation that supports or is supported by violence." 


A Prayer 

St Oscar Romero, pray for us that we too will model our lives on Christ and have the courage to face evil and work for justice. 

First Holy Communion

First Holy Communion in our parish will next be on Sunday June 2nd 2019.  Classes are on-going.

Confirmation

 If you want to be confirmed this academic year (usually in school year 9 and above) please fill out a form expressing your interest and return to Fr Luke.

Job Opportunity

The Diocese is seeking to appoint a Director of Finance and Resources based at Poringland. Full details and an application pack are available on the diocesan website using this link: 

http://www.rcdea.org.uk/director-of-finance-and-resources-vacancy/