CHANGES TO MASS TIMES
As from Monday, the 24th June 2019, due to the fact that priests in the Cathedral are or will be away or convalescing, apart from the fact that we have also lost Fr Mario Tong, we need to suspend temporarily one of the Masses celebrated in the Cathedral.
Therefore, the 7.30 morning Mass will be suspended for the time being.
This decision was not taken lightly, but under the extraordinary and unexpected circumstances we are in, we are sure that you will understand.
During the summer months commencing on Saturday 29th June, the weekend AND weekday evening Masses will be at 7.15 pm.
For the time being during the summer months, in order to ensure we have a Priest available, the Mass schedule will be as follows as from Saturday 22nd June :
Friday 28th: Feast of the Sacred Heart, followed by the traditional Parish celebration. Mass will be at 7 p.m.
All Saturdays & Holy Days of Obligation: 8:00 p.m.
All Sundays: 9:30 a.m.
YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
POPE PROMULGATES NEW LAW ON SAFEGUARDING FOR THE CHURCH
The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, promulgated new norms for the Church’s handling of abuse on May 9th through a motu proprio (‘on his own initiative), titled, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”). He approved its promulgation on an experimental basis for a period of three years. It will enter in effect June 1, 2019.
The Pope wrote: “The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful”. The Bishop has the primary responsibility of ensuring that all issues concerning the Safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons, including the processing of any allegations, is handled efficiently with a ‘zero tolerance’ standard or practice.
Nevertheless, it is also the responsibility of everyone to ensure an environment of safeguarding is maintained and that there is vigilance to report abuses when they occur. It is clear through these norms, that there can be no ‘cover-up’. “Therefore, [the Pope wrote] it is good that procedures be universally adopted to prevent and combat these crimes that betray the trust of the faithful”.
The norms regard what are called, in canon law, “delicts against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue,” consisting of:
-sexual acts with a minor or vulnerable person;
-forcing someone to perform or submit to sexual acts through violence, threat, or abuse of authority;
-and the production or possession of child pornography.
The new law also sanctions any actions intended to cover-up a civil or canonical investigation into accusations of child pornography use, sexual abuse of minors, or sexual coercion through abuse of power. It also emphasizes that “the person under investigation enjoys the presumption of innocence”.
Furthermore, it requires that the Church authorities be committed to ensuring “that those who state that they have been harmed, together with their families, are to be treated with dignity and respect,” be welcomed, listened to, and supported, offered spiritual assistance, and medical and psychological assistance.
A crucial aspect of the new legislation for the entire Church is that it introduces obligatory reporting, requiring that every cleric or religious man or woman who has become aware of an accusation of abuse or cover-up report it “promptly” to the proper Church authority.
The motu proprio also states that every diocese in the world is required to create a stable mechanism or system through which people may submit reports of abuse or its cover-up. The exact form of the system, which could also be an entire office, will be left to the discretion of the individual diocese, but must be established by June 2020.
In Gibraltar, a Diocesan Safeguarding Commission was set up in 2018, on the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.
A diocesan Policy was also established and appropriate Safeguarding training, beginning with our clergy, is being offered to all the groups and persons helping in any way in our parishes.
As Pope Francis wrote: “In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church…. This becomes possible only with the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, as we must always keep in mind the words of Jesus: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15:5). Even if so much has already been accomplished, we must continue to learn from the bitter lessons of the past, looking with hope towards the future’”.
If you wish to learn more about Safeguarding in our Diocese, please visit the pages specifically dedicated to this on our website.
To contact our diocesan Safeguarding Officer or relevant agencies for any concerns you may have, please visit the contact details page.
If you believe that a child or vulnerable adult has suffered or is in immediate risk of suffering significant harm, for example, physical or sexual assault or theft of their property, then you should contact the Police / the Care Agency (Social Services) Department immediately.
DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION!
In all cases where such a situation arises within a church or church-related context, then the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer should be contacted too.
From Death to Life.
The Lord is Risen!
This is the Christian proclamation that resounds throughout the Churches around the world that profess the Christian faith on Easter Sunday.
Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead. His followers saw him executed through being crucified, being laid in the tomb, and then they met him unexpectedly as one who has risen from the dead.
As such we don’t really know what exactly happened at the resurrection, what we know is that Christ was dead and then he rose from the dead.
The resurrection is always and everywhere.
Easter is right at the heart of our life. When we look at life with Easter eyes, then we experience that forgiveness comes beyond grievance, that peace comes beyond conflict, that joy comes beyond sorrow, freedom comes beyond all different kinds of imprisonment, and that love triumphs over fear. In such instances we have the resurrection. Once again the stone is rolled away and Jesus rises from the dead and we rise with him.
The New Testament says that Jesus wasn’t the only one to rise from the dead. He is the first born of many brothers and sisters, us, and therefore where he has gone, from death into an unimaginable life, we are called to follow. We do so as we celebrate Easter, celebrating the resurrection which in reality is happening all around us.
Easter is a call to come out of our tombs. There are so many of us who unfortunately are more prone to remain in our tombs. We continue to remain in our tombs when we lose the perspective of hope in our life. Very often, in facing problems and in dealing with our trials and difficulties, we begin to wonder: is Jesus really alive? That is why many of us allow sadness and grief to continue to hold on to us, and that is why we cannot see the bright light, the joy of Easter.
During Easter we are called to focus on those who have encountered the risen Lord. We realise that the Apostles, who encountered the risen Lord, experienced a change in their life. From a life of pessimism to one of joy, one of courage and hope.
That is what we need to learn from the Apostles. In our daily lives, are we ready to release all hurts, injustices, the anger, the resentment, and learn to heal ourselves and others, and become transforming agents?
This is what we need to enter into the Easter experience, of encountering the Risen Lord, so that our lives will be changed and transformed.
Have a wonderful and blessed Easter celebration.
Bishop of Gibraltar
On Good Friday, during the 3 p.m. afternoon service in all churches throughout the world, the Special Collection for the Holy Places in Jerusalem, our Mother Church, will take place.
Cardinal Sandri, Head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Eastern Churches, in his letter sent to all Bishops states “even today the Middle East is witnessing a process that has torn apart the relations between the peoples of the region” and, quoting Pope St. Paul VI in his Exhortation Nobis in Animo reminds us that “it is necessary for Christians from all over the world to show their generosity, bringing to the Church of Jerusalem the charity of their prayers, the warmth of their understanding and the tangible sign of their solidarity”.
Cardinal Sandri conveys Pope Francis’ deep gratitude to the Faithful who strive for the success of the Collection.
The task of collecting the donations for the Holy Places is entrusted by the Holy See to the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. Gibraltar is blessed to have men and women who commit themselves to support Jerusalem and the Holy places in various ways. their work of charity is truly impressive, including the many schools and hospitals that depend on donations from abroad due to their poverty and challenging situation. For more information visit their website where you can learn more about their charitable activity.
We contemplate on the Gift that God bestowed on the young, ever blessed, Virgin Mary: the Second Person of the Sacred Trinity, Jesus the Word of God, took flesh in Mary’s womb when she conceived Him on this day. She responded to God the Father with freedom, joy and love. She said ‘Yes’:
“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord;
let it be to me according to your word’.
And the angel departed from her”.
There is a famous sermon from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, which speaks of the sense of urgency in seeking Mary’s reply. It was as if the whole world awaits the Virgin’s answer! Take a moment to read this beautiful meditation on today’s feast.
From a sermon of St Bernard of Clairvaux
You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.
Let us pray.
Confirm in our minds the mysteries of the true faith,
we pray, O Lord,
so that, confessing that he who was conceived of the Virgin Mary
is true God and true man,
we may, through the saving power of his Resurrection,
merit to attain eternal joy.
Through Christ our Lord.
“I watched as my husband was butchered to death”
The money that was collected for the ‘Persecuted Churches‘ and sent to ACN(UK) for Nigeria, has been helping Christians facing persecution there.
Read this moving account of a Christian woman’s horrific experience of the atrocities carried out by Boko Haram.
ACN News: Thursday, 14th March 2019 – NIGERIA With picture ‘0314Nigeria_pic’: Catherine Ibrahim with her children, Daniel (left) and Salome (© Aid to the Church in Need)
By Aldie Vanessa Offiong and John Pontifex, ACN(UK)
THE full horror of Islamist militia violence in north-east Nigeria has been revealed in a Christian woman’s very personal account of torture, grief and survival against all the odds.
Speaking in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Catherine Ibrahim described how Boko Haram gunmen forced her to watch as they killed her husband.
As insurgents entered her village, she ran home to rescue her children – Salome, then aged seven, and five-year-old Daniel – but by the time she got there, the fighters had arrived.
Catherine said: “Then, one of the insurgents savagely dragged me, so I could witness my husband’s death.
“They butchered my husband mercilessly, and they made sure that I saw it all. I can’t forget the fear in his eyes. I don’t want to say more than this. I hate to remember.”
Helpless as her children were taken into captivity by Boko Haram, Catherine went on to describe how she set off in search of them – only to be seized herself.
She was thrown into a detention camp and there – to her astonishment – she was reunited with Salome and Daniel.
But tears of joy turned to sadness when she was punished for trying to escape.
She was separated from her children and for two weeks her feet were tied together and her hands were bound behind her neck.
Her captors tortured her until they drew blood.
During her captivity, Catherine prayed to God in her local language. She discovered that her guard also spoke this language and that they were from the same tribe.
She believes the guard played a part in her being eventually released from the camp.
Following her release Catherine’s mother-in-law nursed her back to health – and three years later she was reunited with her children in a displacement camp run by the Catholic diocese of Maiduguri.
Catherine said: “Now that I am back with my children and mother-in-law, my joy knows no bounds.
“But my husband’s death – and having to watch it – will haunt me forever.”
Catherine has had six months of physiotherapy but has still not fully regained the use of her hands.
In north-east Nigeria, ACN has prioritised emergency aid for people caught up in Boko Haram atrocities, as well as pastoral help.
Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world.
Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.
Lent, a time for Repentance
Repentance is turning away from sin and back to God. Usually, this includes some form of penance, to express our sorrow and desire to renew our lives (c.f. Jer. 18:11, 25:5; Ez. 18:30, 33:11-15; Joel 2:12; Mt. 3:2; Mt. 4:17; Acts 2:38).
Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). The general law of penance given by the Church, is therefore an expression of the law of God for us.
The Church for her part has specified certain forms of penance, both to ensure that her members will do something, as required by Divine will, while making it easy for them to fulfil their obligation. The 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics [Eastern Rite Catholics have their own penitential practices given in the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches].
- Canon 919: One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion.
- Canon 1250: All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.
- Canon 1251: Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Canon 1252: All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.
- Canon 1253: It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.
Those who are excused from fasting or abstinence
Besides those outside the age limits, those not of good mental health, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual labourers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving offense to their host, and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.
Aside from these minimum penitential requirements, Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modelled after abstinence and fasting. A person could, for example, multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives). Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat. Similarly, one could multiply the number of days that one fasted. The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church’s law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys – chocolates, soft drinks, smoking, and so on. This is left to the individual.
Jesus reminds us to: “Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven” (c.f. Matthew 6:1-6,16-18). We should therefore never seek our vainglory, but do everything out of genuine love of God and our neighbour.