Monday, May 14, 2007

A Day with Mary

On Saturday 12th May, the Holy Ghost parish hosted 'A Day with Mary'. The Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate and about 400 others enjoyed a traditional day of Marian devotions. There was even an impressive procession of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima around Nightingale Square. With so many prayers, hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, inspiring sermons and hundreds of confessions, this day has surely brought many blessings to our parish. Our gratitude to all those who made it happen.

Forum Christi explores Ecclesiology

On Sunday 13th May Fr Marcus spoke to the Forum Christi group, giving an introduction to Ecclesiology (the study of the Church). The talk focused on the questions "What is the Church?" and "Where is the Church?" In answer to the former question, Fr Marcus explained that the Church was not just a beautiful building at the bottom of Nightingale Square, or even merely the group of people who attend Mass there but that "the Church is the mystical body of Christ, the faithful united in the true worship of God". He also talked about the Church being on Earth, in purgatory and in heaven. The evening concluded with a decade of the rosary and Theology on Tap.

Stepping out for the Church in Need - London youngsters raise more than £2,500 for Christians in Burma

YOUNGSTERS from south London have put their best foot forward to raise money for fellow Catholics denied the freedoms we so often take for granted.
The 17 young people aged 12 and upwards walked nine miles to raise money to enable poverty-stricken Christians in Burma (Myanmar) to build a chapel in a village high up in the mountains.
The group from the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Balham, have now collected more than £2,500, a significant contribution towards building the chapel in a remote village 130 miles from the Myanmar capital, Yangon (Rangoon).
Established only 10 years ago after a neighbouring village became overcrowded, the new community has had no permanent chapel – until now.
So determined were the 100 or so faithful to create a place of worship, they have constructed a temporary chapel made out of bamboo.
In response to their pleas for a permanent structure, their parish priest has appealed for help and Aid to the Church in Need, the charity for persecuted and poverty-stricken Christians, has offered the necessary assistance.
Christians in Burma are subject to institutionalised discrimination – and sometimes outright persecution.
Even Buddhists – who make up more than 70 percent of the population – are held in suspicion by the military regime, and for minorities such as Catholics, there are strict restrictions on construction of churches and evangelisation work.
Problems for Christians are compounded by the fact that so many of them belong to the ethnic groups responsible for insurrections against the government.
The plight of Myanmar’s Christians touched Father Marcus Holden, assistant priest of Holy Ghost Church, Balham, who organised the walk.
The route they followed from Holy Ghost Church, in Nightingale Square, led them to London’s Marble Arch – Tyburn – the site where many Catholics were martyred during the Penal times in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Fr Marcus described how he and the youngsters completed the walk with a Mass he celebrated at Tyburn Convent, which was established as a shrine in memory of the martyrs.
He said: “The link with Tyburn was very significant. It was fitting that our destination for this sponsored walk for persecuted Christians should end there.
“The walk also provided us with the opportunity to talk about our faith in a very natural way and to have fun together. It was an experience of faith and charity that they will never forget.” By John Pontifex

Every Child is a Blessing

In our parish we are blessed with very many births each year - as anyone who has attended the 10am Mass on Sunday morning will have experienced for themselves! Sometimes, sadly, the great joy of parents expecting a new addition to their family can be turned to distress and heartache when they hear that there is a possibility their baby may be unwell. Often great pressure is put upon them to terminate the pregnancy at an early stage even though, as many of our brave parents have discovered the prognosis itself lacks accuracy. We have many healthy children in the parish whose parents were recommended a termination because their child was diagnosed as having Downs Syndrome or some other disorder.
Not every diagnosis however is so shaky and sometimes the child is indeed unwell. The pressure put on parents to end the life of that child can be unbearable. One mother in our parish was accused of being `cruel´ because she refused to agree to an abortion. It is not unusual for parents to be told that the baby will live for such a short time that 'it´s not worth' continuing the pregnancy. I'm grateful to Fr Tim Finigan for drawing my attention to this short video: