Acts 10:34, 37-43 Psalm 117
Colossians 3:1-4 John 20:1-9
HOW THE RESURRECTION SETS US FREE
Many years ago, when I was in the very first years of my training to be a Jesuit priest, I was sent to work at St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, south east London. For six weeks or so, I was a volunteer assistant on a ward and got to know many patients in the last stages of terminal illness and the doctors and nurses who cared for them.
The director of the hospice at the time was Dr Cicely Saunders who is often credited with founding the hospice movement in this country. Now almost every town has a hospice nearby and many are the families who thank God for the care their loved ones received which enabled their last days to be as pain-free and as comfortable as they could be.
While I was convinced this work was very worthwhile, and just what the followers of Jesus should be doing, bringing His compassion and mercy to those who needed Him most, I cannot pretend that I found it anything other than challenging. As we know, being present to people who suffer and grieve means that we will ourselves be touched in some way by their suffering and grief as well.
I clearly recall how on one afternoon the volunteers were invited to the hospice chapel to join the medical staff in an afternoon of prayer led by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, the Russian Orthodox archbishop whose books on prayer were widely read and who regularly featured on television all those years ago.
His theme was Christ calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. A vivid and colourful depiction of this Gospel scene was one of the many paintings on display around the hospice. Metropolitan Anthony explained that just as Christ was present with His disciples in the midst of their storm, calming that storm, so the vocation of each and every doctor, nurse and volunteer was to be present with those who were sick and their with families and friends, in the midst of their storms, thereby pointing to the presence of Christ with them.
I have been thinking about that now far off episode in my life this past week as it speaks to me of an important aspect of our faith in the risen Jesus.
Jesus rose from the dead and assured His disciples that those who follow His way of love, with the suffering and death which in some way this will entail, will certainly follow him to eternal life. No matter what may happen to us, if we follow him in life, we will share His resurrection too. This was St Paul’s faith when he wrote in the Letter to the Romans, “ For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
This certainty can set us free to bring the compassion and mercy of the Lord where it is so much needed: to be with those people in those places where doing so means we may share their pain and suffering and where we may find ourselves tossed about in the storms of life they are experiencing. It was surely this certainty that enabled Cicely Saunders to overcome the many obstacles she encountered as she established her first hospice. I wonder too whether it wasn’t this certainty that enabled Fr Frans van der Lugt, whose martyrdom five years ago we have been remembering this past week, to stay on in the city of Homs in Syria during its bombardment, bringing food and comfort to the elderly and housebound, even though he knew this put his life at risk. I confess that the lives of both are for me an additional, powerful witness to the reality of Christ’s resurrection and the impact it has today .
May our faith in the resurrection of Jesus set us free to live His Gospel of mercy and compassion for those most in need and to do so with the warmth of His love and with generosity. In this way, may our lives too be a powerful witness to the reality of His resurrection to men and women today.
Fr Michael Holman S.J.
ON BEHALF OF THE PARISH TEAM AND THE JESUIT COMMUNITY,
A HAPPY EASTER TO EVERYONE!
MARCH FOR LIFE
The annual March for Life will take place in London on Saturday 11th May. The march begins at 2pm outside the entrance to Westminster Church House on 25 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BN and finishes outside Parliament. Talks and pro-life activities take place in the morning before the march. For more information, visit www.marchforlife.co.uk. This is the largest Pro-Life demonstration in the UK and is an important witness to our belief in the sanctity of life and the rights of the unborn.
The Hunted Priest: Fr John Gerard, the English Mission, and the Gunpowder Plot
A talk on Fr John Gerard SJ, will be held in the Farm Street Church hall on Wednesday 22nd May at 6.45pm. Landing at night on the Norfolk Coast in October 1588, Fr Gerard very successfully ministered to English Catholics for 17 years in extraordinary circumstances. After many daring escapes, he suffered imprisonment and torture, famously escaping from the Tower of London in 1597 to continue his work until 1605. The talk is by his ten greats nephew, Michael Maslinski, who last year persuaded the BBC to withdraw inaccurate allegations in a documentary that he had been a central figure in the Gunpowder Plot.
The annual parish pilgrimage to Walsingham takes place on Saturday 25th May. Departing from Farm Street at 8.30am we will visit both Anglican and Catholic shrines arriving back at 8pm. Cost is £35 including lunch. Book via email@example.com or by calling Leslie Giltz on 0207 408 9250. Cheques payable to Farm Street Church (marked Walsingham). If you have never been to this historic pilgrimage site, this is a great opportunity.
The Bridge Club meets here every Tuesday evening, starting at 6.30pm, all levels are welcome. Funds raised go to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
EASTER GARDEN APPEAL
Please consider donating a potted flowering plant for our Easter Garden. As you would have noticed, all flowers are customarily removed from the church during the penitential season of Lent. In contrast, we hope that our Easter Garden will be as joyful and colourful as befits the celebration of Easter. If you would like to donate a potted flowering plant, please contact reception on 020 7493 7811 or hand in to a member of staff.
LGBT CATHOLICS WESTMINSTER
On the weekend of 26th- 28th April, LGBT+ Catholics Westminster will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Admiral Duncan pub bombing, and mark the 20th anniversary of Masses welcoming LGBT+ Catholics, their parents and families. An information stand in a Farm Street Church side-chapel will feature various aspects of hate-crime and how we can respond. There will be a prayerful history walk on Saturday, 27 April, 14.00-16.30, visiting West End sites significant in the history of LGBT+ Catholics, from Oscar Wilde to the present day. All are welcome – further details: firstname.lastname@example.org – www.lgbtcatholicswestminster.org”
Farm Street Church is now able to process donations via contactless payment. Terminals for this can be found in the church and at reception.
EASTER MONDAY to EASTER FRIDAY
April 22nd to April 26th
Church closed until 11am. Mass at 1.05pm only, after which the church will be closed.