Please click the link below, to read the Bishop’s Press Release, which explains the emergency measures that are in place in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19
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.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned
(c.f. Psalm 50(51):3-6,12-14,17)
ARRIVAL OF A BESTSELLER!
The Cornerstone Bookshop is pleased to announce that we have received approximately 100 copies of María Vallejo-Nágera’s bestseller “Badlands” from a very generous donor and we, in turn, are giving them away to our customers for a donation, which will be given to one of our local charities.
“What I find so touching is that, for a Split second, my heart connects with that baby and its inconsolable crying. Its lament cuts right through my soul! And then I start sobbing, because I feel that little one belongs to me, that he´s mine and that there´s an eternal cord that connects my insides to him, a cord that I couldn´t sever even if I wanted to…”
“Anne Sophie, this book´s real-life protagonist, was not lucky enough to have been blessed with a happy childhood. Born into a difficult family and a home bereft of love, she was the victim of abuse that began at a very young age and would continue into her adolescence, culminating in an unwanted pregnancy: “a being that was conceived out of human violence but who also died for the exact same reason.”
“Yet life curiously and invariably tests our capacity to look at the evil that surrounds us through different eyes, allowing us to conquer and extract the good within it. Life, which can punish us with unexpected misfortune, can also surprise us with an unimaginably greater good, with a love that supersedes all understanding”.
“This powerful novel speaks to us of pain and suffering, but it also speaks of how the wounds we harbour in our souls can be healed, expanding our capacity to love and forgive as a result. Anne Sophie currently lives in Texas and is the founder of a society whose mission is to “respect life and is the founder of a society whose mission is to “respect life and protect the family from conception to natural death”.
“Badlands is, in short, a true story of a woman whose experience shows us how facing the bleakest moments of our lives can intensify the good within us and even in the deepest, darkest abyss, light can be found.”
Hurry, ask for your copy whilst stocks last!!!
My Dear People,
We have celebrated the end of 2019, and ushered in 2020.
2019 has been a very eventful year for Gibraltar, with elections taking place here, in England and in Spain, all of which will have a bearing on us as a people. The prospects of 2020 are no less daunting, with very important issues coming to a head and praying that things go well for the good of all of us.
In the liturgical calendar of the Church, the first day of the New Year is dedicated to the Solemnity of the Mother of God, which commemorates Mary’s role in the mystery of salvation.
The feast of Mary, the Mother of God, underscores that her son, Jesus, is one person, truly God and truly Man. In Jesus, God has assumed our humanity. He knows our pains and struggles and temptations. He is the throne of mercy to which we can turn as He is our Leader in salvation.
Hence, the ushering of the New Year should not just be focused on merriment and festivity, but as Catholics, the New Year should be rich with spiritual meaning for us; one that gives us much gratitude and thankfulness for the past, hope and courage to face the future ahead. We face the future not alone but with Jesus and the assistance of our Blessed Mother
Today, we also mark the World Day of Peace. Faith in Jesus as the Good News, the light of humanity is also the guarantee to world peace in this troubled and divisive world. He is the source of peace. Unless we are reconciled with God, we cannot find peace within us. The source of division lies in the divided and selfish hearts of humanity.
May Jesus be our future. Let Him be the center of our lives and our relationships. Let us ground our faith and life in Jesus and on the Word of God as the path to truth, love and life. Let us also do our part for a peaceful tomorrow by righting our relationships through love, patience and dialogue.
May Mary, the Mother of God, inspire us to a deeper faith and humility. May we learn to be discerning and contemplative in prayer as we seek to be instruments and channels of unity and peace in the world, beginning in our family, in the workplace and society.
I wish you a Blessed 2020, and pray that God will always be our rock and our salvation.
Bishop of Gibraltar
Bishop Zammit sends greetings to everyone this Christmas
“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2:11)
This is the news of great joy that we, as Christians, are called to share with all of humanity. This is what Christmas is all about, the birth of Christ, our Saviour and Lord. We are celebrating the Incarnation of God as a reality and not as a mythological story.
We have spent the last two months witnessing the attractions that commercial venues present to us to entice us to shop and prepare for all that is culturally and socially expected of us during this period. For some time, many would have been buying food and drinks, together with all other sorts of Christmas attractions and presents.
All this is commendable, since there is always in this preoccupation to prepare for Christmas that element of good will towards others. This, thank God, has remained as the main feeling during this period even for those who are not Christians, or who do not practice their Christian religion. There are those who have taken Christ out of Christmas, but there is no taking away from us that Christmas is about loving, wishing well to each other and advocating peace. Even in our secularist society, which unfortunately have lost the sense of God and of the sacred, such sentiments are still felt during this period.
The key words that are often repeated at Christmas time are love and peace.
The ultimate truth that we celebrate at Christmas is summarized in one of the most often quoted verses from St John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).
God’s love for us, with all our deficiencies and failures, remains the central message, as we reflect on the events around the birth of Jesus.
For those who celebrate the birth of Christ as the coming of the Saviour, and embrace the Gospel, this annual observance provides the opportunity to be grounded once again at the very core of our being, to understand that the purpose of all humanity is to live in the knowledge of the love of God and thus to live peaceably with all men and women.
It is important that we remember those who are suffering during this Christmas, and try to show our solidarity with them. The love that God has shown us by becoming one of us should be shared amongst us.
The Angels sang, when they appeared to the shepherds, peace on earth on those of good will. If we want peace to reign in the world, that peace has to start existing within us. Unless we feel at peace, we cannot make peace a possible reality around us. Places of conflict are all around us. Achieving world peace seems to be a far-fetched dream, but however impossible it may seem we need to pray and hope that the peace that Christ came to bring on earth may one day be achieved.
To live the love and peace that Christmas announces, here in Gibraltar, we have to learn to concretely show respect towards each other in the way we talk about each other and what we write on the social media, which may be detrimental to the wellbeing of others. When there is disagreement, it is time that we show respect in the way we argue what we believe in. Hiding behind the social media to vent hatred and insults against others is certainly not the best way to behave in a civilized society.
Let us enjoy ourselves this Christmas, let us strengthen the ties that bind families together, but let us also find some time to reflect on our lives and see whether there are areas where we need to revise and change our behaviour so that the love and peace which Christmas is meant to bring with it is realized in the way we live.
I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year.
December 2019/January 2020
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
The Nativity of Our Lord
Tuesday 24th December:
5.30 p.m: Family Mass
11.30 p.m: Carols
12.00 a.m. Midnight Mass
Wednesday 25th December:
The Feast of the Holy Family
Saturday 28th December:
Sunday 29th December:
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
(Holy Day of Obligation)
Tuesday 31st December: 6.30 p.m.
Mass and Te Deum
Wednesday 1st January:
2nd Sunday of Christmas
Saturday 4th January:
Sunday 5th January:
Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord
(Holy Day of Obligation)
Sunday 5th January:
Monday 6th January:
Weekday Mass times
(except for above Solemnities)
Monday – Friday:
9.15, 12.25, 18.30
are organizing the annual Diocesan
‘WEDDING ANNIVERSRAY CELEBRATION’ for 21st February
Have you Celebrated or will be Celebrating your
25th, 40th, 50th or 60th Wedding Anniversary
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY MOVEMENT will once again be hosting the annual Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Celebration.
Information and a link to the form are provided below. Also in the Upon this Rock Magazine.
We look forward to celebrating with you and your families!
N.B. the date on the poster below has been changed to
Apologies for any inconvenience.
Apart from our Sunday Mass commitment, the Church asks us to honour these three special days during the Christmas Liturgical season:
Wednesday 25th December: CHRISTMAS DAY
Wednesday 1st January: MARY, MOTHER of GOD
Monday 6th January: THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD
Advent marks a time of spiritual preparation before Christmas
It begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) and spans four Sundays or four weeks unless Christmas falls early.
The historical origins of Advent are hard to determine with great precision. From its earliest form in the 4th century, Advent has always been similar to Lent, with an emphasis on prayer and fasting.
The Gelasian Sacramentary, traditionally attributed to Pope St. Gelasius I (d. 496), was the first to provide Advent liturgies for five Sundays. Later, Pope St. Gregory I (d. 604) enhanced these liturgies composing prayers, antiphons, readings, and responses. Pope St. Gregory VII (d. 1095) later reduced the number of Sundays in Advent to four. Finally, about the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the Church’s Liturgical Year.
The Catechism stresses the two-fold meaning of this coming : When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (No. 524).
The importance of this season is therefore to focus on the coming of our Lord. Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning coming:
- We REFLECT BACK and are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lords first coming into this world. We are invited to ponder more deeply into the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin.
- We LOOK FORWARD as we recall in the Creed that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.
Our use of the Advent wreathe was inspired by the German Lutherans in the early 1500’s. The wreathe is a circle, which has no beginning or end: In this way, we call to mind how our lives, here and now, participate in the eternity of Gods plan of salvation and how we hope to share eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. The wreathe is made of fresh plant material, because Christ came to give us new life through His passion, death, and resurrection. Three candles are purple (the same colour as the Priest’s vestments in Advent), symbolizing penance, preparation, and sacrifice; the pink candle symbolizes the same but highlights the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, when we rejoice because our preparation is now half-way finished.
The light represents Christ, who entered this world to scatter the darkness of evil and show us the way of righteousness. The progression of lighting candles shows our increasing readiness to meet our Lord. Each family ought to have an Advent wreathe, light it at dinner time, and say the special prayers. This tradition will help each family keep its focus on the true meaning of Christmas. In all, during Advent we strive to fulfil the opening prayer for the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent: