As has been said so many times in recent months, 2020 has been a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption and change in almost every area of our lives, including the way we have celebrated Mass and the other sacraments. As we approach Christmas we look forward to the hope of a more ‘normal’ 2021.
Perhaps the three most important words that children can learn are ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’, but the attitudes behind these words – respect, gratitude and forgiveness – only develop when they are lived out in the family, in the school, in the parish, and in society at large.
Sickness and death are often hidden or denied in contemporary culture yet everyone encounters ill health at some time in their lives, whether in short-term conditions such as appendicitis and the common cold or chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and mental illness.
In the Catholic Church there are three ‘levels’ of ordination within the sacrament of Holy Orders: deacon, priest and bishop. The Second Vatican Council spoke of the bishop as having ‘the fullness of the sacrament of Orders’ and dedicated an entire decree to the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church.
Hot cross buns and chocolate eggs are enjoyed by many over the Easter period, but not everyone understands their true significance. Behind those simple ‘treats’ stand the most profound events of human history.
It is striking how often Pope Francis refers to the family in his writings and homilies. In the week after Christmas we celebrated the feast of the Holy Family, and now at the beginning of February, the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. Both feasts call us to reflect on the vital link between a strong Christian family and a fruitful celebration of parish liturgy.
At the beginning of next month the Church celebrates two important feasts: All Saints on November 1, followed by All Souls on November 2. While in the minds of many Catholics these two feasts are inextricably linked, they originated at different times and have different emphases.