Welcome to the Sacred Heart RC Church Oxford
Sacred Heart Church in Blackbird Leys, Oxford is part of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. We hope that you will find our website useful and enjoy searching through the various aspects of life in the parish. Here you will be able to check our weekly newsletter, news and forthcoming parish events, read about how to go about with Sacramental preparation and find out Mass times and other services. The memorabilia is a pictorial capture of parish events which we hope will tell the story of what is going on in the parish. You will find useful links to other websites of institutions closely linked to the parish.
Whatever your reason for visiting us we pray that God will bless your search and grant you many blessings.
HOLY WEEK CELEBRATIONS
PALM SUNDAY: 25th March
9.30 am: Mass – African Choir
6.00 pm: Mass
MAUNDY THURSDAY: 29th March
7 pm: MASS OF OUR LORD’S SUPPER – African Choir
followed by adoration.
GOOD FRIDAY: 30th March
10.00 am: Witness Walk on the Leys Estates with Stations of the Cross led by Malayalam Community.
3.00 pm: PASSION OF OUR LORD SERVICE – Main Choir
HOLY SATURDAY: 31st March
10.00 am: Office of Readings & Morning Prayer
8.30 pm: Easter Vigil – Filipino Choir
EASTER SUNDAY: 1st April
9.30 am: Holy Mass – Santa Terezinha Choir.
6.00 pm: Holy Mass
Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do – David Torkington
I simply worshipped the heroes of ancient Greece when I was at school. I loved to hear stories about Troy and the heroes who fought there. I loved to read about the Persian wars and the warriors who fought for freedom at Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae. Most of all, I worshipped Alexander the Great and marvelled at the mighty empire he set up even before he was 30.
I could not help it if the hero I was introduced to in religious class seemed to be rather weak compared with those. He did not actually triumph over his enemies as my Greek heroes did nor was there much in it for his followers, unless you happen to like being thrown to the lions!
However, shortly before leaving school I had something of a conversion experience that led me to join a prayer group run by the school’s spiritual director. It gave me a new vision of the faith in which I had been raised. It enabled me to see that Jesus was a hero after all—He promised a new sort of heroism that was open, not just to a chosen elite but to all. He showed, not only by what He said but also by what He did, that the human weakness the Greeks despised becomes strength when it enables a person to experience his need of God’s strength.
It was this strength that enabled Jesus to do not only all things possible but the impossible—that was way beyond the strength of the mightiest Greek warrior. When a Greek hero was persecuted, he would curse his enemies and plan revenge. When Jesus was persecuted, He would bless His enemies and grant them forgiveness. Moreover, the forgiveness that He readily gave was not given later, long after the event “when time had healed”; rather, it was given at the time when they were in the act of torturing Him to the death. For it was while the nails were being driven into His hands and feet, sending shock waves of pain into every part of His person that He prayed for their forgiveness. This sort of heroism was way beyond the Greek heroes that I had once adored. It demanded a quality of superhuman strength that was first embodied in the man I had once considered weak and unworthy of my attention.
If all that is expected of us is to stand back and admire what Jesus did I could cope with it, but the truth of the matter is we are called upon to do the same. The words of the Gospel are clear and unyielding. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you.” In addition, we are told to forgive them not once or twice, but time and time again — “seventy times seven.”
Those frightening words are not just addressed to a chosen few but to all who claim to be Christian. If we do not think they ask the impossible then we should thank our lucky stars that we have never really had an enemy, never experienced what it is like to be hated, especially by those you thought were once your friends.
Saint Francis used to say that we should call our enemies our friends, especially when they bring us down and humble us. For it is then, in experiencing our weakness, that we will fall down on our knees in the true and certain knowledge that only God can help us. Then He will give us the grace that pride had prevented before, to do what no Greek hero has ever done—the impossible. For it is only with God’s grace that we can forgive our enemies without hesitation, no matter what they would do to us. When we have done that we can be fully forgiven as well, because at last we can pray more sincerely than we ever have, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”
I may well have started my conversion as a teenager many years ago, but by this standard I still have a long way to go. It does not take me quite as long to forgive my enemies as it once did, but I am still a long, long way from forgiving them at the time, especially when they are hell bent on doing their worst to do me harm when I am only trying to do my best!
DAVID TORKINGTON © (www.DavidTorkington.com) is a Spiritual Theologian, Author and Speaker, who specializes in Prayer, Christian Spirituality and Mystical Theology. He was educated at the Franciscan Study Centre, England, and the National Catholic Radio and Television Centre, Hatch End, London, where he was later appointed to the post of Dean of Studies. He was extra mural lecturer in Mystical Theology at the Dominican University in Rome (The Angelicum). In addition to giving Retreats and lecturing all over Europe, he undertook five prolonged lecture tours to Africa, mainly Equatorial Africa, speaking on Prayer and Spirituality to Religious, Monks, Diocesan Priests and lay people. His personal spirituality is predominantly Franciscan, his Mystical Theology Carmelite, all welded together with a solid blend of Benedictine moderation. He has sold over 300,000 books in more than twelve different languages. His most successful book is “Wisdom from the Western Isles,” the popular “Peter Calvay Trilogy” (Hermit, Prophet, Mystic) re-edited in one volume in which he teaches the reader how to pray, from the very beginning to what Saint Teresa of Avila calls the Mystical Marriage. He is at present working on his latest book, “Wisdom from the Christian Mystics” which will be followed by his autobiography “Injured Innocence.” When not writing, he spends time on his boat on the peaceful Beaulieu river in the New Forest, Hampshire, and exploring the Jurassic coast, Dorset. He is a member of The Athenaeum, Pall Mall, London.
Acknowledgement: Shalom Tidings
The Healing Power of Confession – Fr. Eamonn McCarthy
Forgiveness is at the heart of the teaching and ministry of Our Divine Saviour and yet, as the song goes, “sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Why is it that many people have such great difficulty going to confession when the TV and radio chat shows endlessly indulge audiences with the often less than-edifying lives of their rich and famous guests? “Celebrity gossip” they call it. It is as if there is a built-in human need to tell our story, warts and all. This is why confession is sometimes understood as a natural Sacrament. Even the non-believer knows that for any relationship to last it is necessary to be able to say, “I am sorry.” Yet, how quick we are to excuse ourselves! “At least I am not that bad,” we might say. Perhaps you have heard the story about the penitent who said to the priest, “Sure, I have no sins to confess” to which the priest wryly responded, “Well, in that case, do you know what you have to do? Go out into the Church and take the statue of Our Lady down from the pedestal and let yourself stand up there instead, and we will all light candles in front of you!” By all accounts, this is a true story.
“But, I do not like going to confession!” Ah, now that is a bit better! At least it is a more honest approach to the question. Confession is humiliating. Well, if that is so, then, perhaps, as Saint Teresa of Calcutta says, “humiliation is a path to humility.” Maybe herein lies the answer. Pride blocks me from grace and mercy. Pride fools me into thinking that I have not committed any sins. Pride, that original sin, darkens my intellect and weakens my will, prevents me from coming into the light of God’s grace. Is this not what Hell is all about—refusing to come out of my own selfish world—remaining in the dark? How miserable is that?
This explains why the only sin that cannot be forgiven is the one that is not confessed. This is “the sin against the Holy Spirit”—the denial of mercy. There is no such thing as a sin that cannot be forgiven, but God will not bestow His unfathomable love and mercy upon us unless we ask for it. Love cannot be forced upon someone who does not want to receive it. God’s grace is always there—all we have to do is ask.
Perhaps this also clarifies why Jesus instituted confession by way of a personal encounter with Him through the priest. In this way, it demands authentic humility. Not only is it extremely therapeutic to “tell” my sins to another person, thus unburdening myself, it allows me to honestly face up to them, to begin to account for myself, to obtain good counsel and seek to make amends. Like the doctor, I am not there as a priest to embarrass or make penitents feel guilty—our merciful God has already built that into our nature to prompt us to confess. All I want to do is heal in the name of Jesus. But how can I heal you, in His name, if you will not come, or you do not show me all your wounds?
Did you ever notice the interior effect of a good confession? Just as a ray of morning sunlight in the window catches the plethora of dust and motes in the air so, also, a ray of God’s grace enlightens the soul to see so many areas in need of attention. We begin to see things differently when we are open to the light of God’s grace. Seeing others in that same light, it becomes easier to excuse and even forgive where previously we had so easily found fault. The words of Jesus take on a new meaning for the enlightened soul: “the measure in which you forgive is the measure in which you will be forgiven,” so, also, with the other fruits of frequent confession—healing, peace, strength and growth.
Deliverance from evil brings physical and spiritual relief. Letting go of some hurt or some addiction brings real bodily relief. How much lighter we feel in spirit when we have honestly shown our wounds to the divine physician in this grace-filled sacrament!
Jesus is the author and source of peace. At the Last Supper, He told His disciples, “My peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give.” The world longs for peace. In hearing those words of absolution, “I absolve you …” the heart of Jesus reaches out to your heart. Going in peace, we praise afresh the Divine Mercy, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Is there any sincere Catholic who is not battle-weary against the world, the flesh and the devil? This fighting of the good fight is impossible without supernatural help. Regular confession gives us real strength and stamina to continue running the race to the finish. When our wills are more closely attuned to the Divine Will, there is an assurance there. The truth sets us free. Others will begin to notice the difference it is making in us. They will want a share in this joy that comes by living the Gospel.
Like any beautiful garden that demands constant weeding and cultivation, so also the life of the soul demands regular attention. Fortnightly or monthly confession turns over that soil. The beautiful flowers of virtue, which take time and patience to cultivate, will bloom by God’s healing grace in the soul of those who are faithful to this sacrament. Who does not like to stop and admire a beautiful garden? Such are the lives of the saints who, by regular weeding and fertilizing, were enabled to bear such great fruit and become part of the Lord’s rich harvest.
Put it off no longer. Now is the time to allow the Lord to lavish His gifts of grace upon you. Drink from the fountain, bathe in its waters, come and be healed!
Father Eamonn McCarthy is a priest of the parish of Macroom in the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland. Prior to entering the priesthood, he spent seven years in England working as a Civil Engineer and this year he celebrates his nineteen years of priestly ministry. Father McCarthy has been recently featured in two episodes on SHALOM WORLD TV’s original series “Luminous”: one on Confession and the other on the temperance movement known as The Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart.
Acknowledgement: Shalom Tidings
An interviewer once asked popular evangelist Billy Graham, “I have heard from many press reporters that there are better preachers than you, Mr. Graham. Yet you are the most well known among modern evangelists. How is this so?” Graham replied, “When I get to Heaven, that is going to be my first question!”
While God tests, satan tempts. God tests to reward us and satan tempts to conquer us. We all face both testing and temptations in our lives. Through tests, we can still survive. By succumbing to temptations, we may not. The season of Lent begins with the meditation on the temptations of Christ and culminates in Easter with His successful victory over all temptations and testing.
From Scripture, we know that Jesus was tempted soon after His forty days of fasting and prayer when the tempter made three propositions:
First, the tempter asked Jesus to perform a miracle by commanding stones to transform into bread. The evil one implies that our performance may increase our value. Jesus responded by citing the Word of God that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Sometimes, we are tempted to think that our performances or achievements make us great. But in reality, they never do. If you make your value based on your achievement, you may soon feel devalued. It is true that your position or achievements may increase your influence, but it does not increase your value. Your value is not based on what you do or your degrees and awards, but rather by what you are—a child of God.
Second, the tempter asked Jesus to jump from the top of the temple so that He could attract others. The tempter implies that your popularity will increase your value. By countering satan, Jesus said, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:7). The enemy always wants you to put in a performance so that you can convince the public that you are greater than others. You then look for the approval of others. But, sooner or later, you will tire of putting on a performance before others. Jesus rejects satan’s proposition for searching for cheap popularity. Others cannot decide your value. For Jesus to be called the Son of God, He does not need cheap popularity that the deceiver offers.
Third, the tempter asked Jesus to fall down and worship satan so that, in return, Jesus would be given all the possessions of the earth. By this, satan implies that your material possessions will increase your value. In rejecting the evil one’s last temptation, Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). Your earthly possessions may increase your net-worth, but not your self-worth. If the tempter does not succeed in conquering you with physical and emotional temptations, he will try through worldly possessions. If you fill your heart and life with earthly possessions, where then can you fit the Lord in your life?
Let us meditate on the spiritual battle between the Christic-self and devilish-self within us. The question is “Who will you ultimately let conquer your life?” If you base your worth in the Lord, the Christic-self wins. Otherwise, you allow for the devilish-self to dominate. If you wonder about the value of your self-worth, there is an easy exercise that you can do: if you remove from your life your performance value, the popularity you have in front of others, and your earthly possessions—what are you left with? Now, in what does your self-worth lie?
The temptations Jesus Christ faced over two thousand years ago is a battle that continues today, not in some distant desert, but in the desert of our own lives. This Lenten season, I ask you to ready yourself through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We must equip ourselves to defeat the tempter by opposing the temptations which will ruin our hearts, our peace of mind, and our family lives.
We find parallels and contrasts between two great temptations: one at the Garden of Eden where the first Adam failed in his temptations and we lost Paradise. Second, the temptation in the desert where the New Adam overcame temptations and we regained Eternal Paradise.
This Lent, ask yourself, “Do I want to want to live a Christic-life and gain eternal life or will I continue on the path that I am on and risk losing Paradise once again?
Loving Father, provide me, my family, and my loved ones with the power of Your Word, so that, through You, I may conquer the temptations in the desert of my life. Amen.