By Manvarca - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!’

Sometimes Jesus can surprise us, even shock us in what he says.  In the Gospel this Sunday he does just that.  He says that he has come to bring fire to the earth, division and not peace.  So what happened to gentle Jesus, meek and mild?   Here’s the point, the fire that Jesus comes to bring to the earth, to our lives, is the fire of love for us which burns in his Sacred Heart.  Jesus is on fire with love for us and he wants us to burn with love for him.  To really love involves making a choice.  To really love Jesus means rejecting anything that gets in the way of that love and choosing him above everything.  This is the division that Jesus brings.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus on fire with love for us invites us to make a radical choice of love.

This Thursday we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  
The Assumption of Mary teaches us something very important about our lives as Christians.  Throughout her life, Mary united herself with the mission of Jesus her Son, including and especially in his suffering and death in which she shared with all the compassion of a mother. Because of this, at the end of her life, God ensured that she remained closely joined with her Son in heaven.  From heaven she continues to cooperate with her Son’s saving mission by praying for us.
We must imitate Mary, we must unite ourselves to Jesus, including and especially in pain and suffering.  We can make an offering of any suffering we experience, joining it with that of Jesus for the salvation of souls.  And because it is union with Christ in his saving death that brings about union with him in his resurrection, this is how we will follow where Mary has gone before us, to the eternal bliss of heaven.

The holiday season is very much upon us!  I have just returned from my summer break and now Fr David is off on his.  During August we welcome Fr Michael Quaicoe who is helping us out during his holidays from his studies in Rome.   Whether you are jetting off to somewhere exotic or just having a rest at home, it’s important to have a break.  Holidays are a great opportunity not just to rest our mind and body but also to refresh our souls.  When life is a little quieter we can rediscover simply how to take to delight in the Lord, to enjoy His presence, in the mass, in the tabernacle, in our prayer and in those we meet.  After all, when this life is over and all our plans and frantic activity are finally ended, there will be only one thing to delight in, only one thing to love and that is God.  Learning to delight in Him now helps to ensure that we will be able to enjoy His presence for ever.  Happy holidays!

Today we welcome back Fr Mark who will help celebrate some of the Masses. Fr Mark has just returned from the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes where he served as chaplain to the young people.  Deacon David has gone on his break and will return at weekends in September.  I will begin my summer holidays this week.  Fr Andrew will be in charge of the parish and he will be helped for the month by Fr Michael Quaicoe.  Fr Michael was until recently an assistant priest at Westminster Cathedral and is now mostly based in Rome where he is completing his doctorate in Canon Law. I am grateful to him for his help and I know we will all make him feel most welcome. Finally, many thanks for your generosity last weekend in giving so generously towards Mary's Meals.  I pray that you may all have a blessed and safe summer.

We send our thanks and best wishes to all staff and children in our parish and locality who finished the school term on Friday. Special thanks to everyone who helped to prepare and celebrate our own Leavers' Mass here on Tuesday afternoon. I will be at an ordination in Leeds Diocese this weekend but I will be around in the parish until the end of July. Together with Fr. Andrew, Deacons David and Ian, and the whole team, I send best wishes and blessings to all parishioners who are beginning their summer holidays this weekend or in the coming weeks - travel safely and have a great time!
Welcome to Fr. Samuel and Fr. John Moffatt SJ who are visiting this weekend and celebrating some of our Masses.

As the academic year draws to a close, we find ourselves in the season of graduations, ordinations and farewells!  Well done to those who have done exams or are preparing to move on in education. On Thursday, Mr Meehan and I attended the 'Celebration of Service Mass' at Westminster Cathedral as we said thank you to Bishop Wilson for his work in the Education Service.  He is becoming the new Archbishop of Southwark. Last week, I celebrated Mass at the cathedral for all the diocesan teachers who have completed the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies.  Speaking of the diocese, please also keep in your prayers Alex Balzanella who is ordained deacon today in Rome, and Ben Woodley and Julian Davies who will be ordained priests soon.

Welcome (back) to Monsignor Tom Egan and Fr Mark Walker who are helping Fr David this weekend. We also welcome Deacon David Knight and Deacon Ian Coleman.

Today is the feast of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, patron saints of the city and church of Rome.  Known as the 'columns of the Church', they have been venerated since the earliest times as the greatest of the Lord's apostles.  An apostle is someone who is sent out.  Both these individuals, Simon and Saul, overcame their own pasts and experienced the grace of conversion in their lives - symbolised by their new names - and allowed themselves to be sent by the Holy Spirit to announce the Gospel to the  ends of the earth.  Today we wear red vestments as a reminder that they stained the ground of Rome with the witness of their own blood.  Peter died by crucifixion and Paul was beheaded.

We are in a season of great feasts. Today is the feast of Corpus Christi, and Friday is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please keep the priests of the diocese in your prayers that day as they will gather for a special celebration for diocesan priests at Westminster Cathedral. Unfortunately I will not be able to join them as I am involved in the annual retreat for the Education Service staff.  There was a wonderful celebration for school children from all over the diocese last Tuesday at the cathedral as we celebrated our ‘Eucharistic Journey’—a fitting theme for Corpus Christi. Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School were represented, as were many of our local Catholic primary and secondary schools.

At the Saturday Vigil Mass we will celebrate the Going Forth Mass for our teenagers who were recently confirmed. Thank you to everyone who joined in the wonderful celebration for the First Holy Communion Going Forth Mass last weekend. We would also like to thank our wonderful team of catechists for helping to prepare the young people and the great celebrations. May God bless you all.

Today is the solemnity of Pentecost, the final day of the Easter season. Today we recall the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first disciples and the beginning of the age of the Church.  At the 11.15 am Mass we will celebrate 'Going Forth' with the children and their families who recently celebrated First Holy Communion - may the Holy Spirit give them the same wonderful gifts that he bestowed on the original friends of Jesus. May God bless you all on this special feast day. Fr David.