Patronal feast of st. francis of assisi
Parishioner Summer 2015 - Latest Edition
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Canon Luke writes...
After his great military ambitions lay in tatters and experiencing a profound sense of emptiness with his materially privileged life and status; St Francis’ journey of spiritual conversion began. Beginning to dedicate himself to a life of prayer, he frequented a dilapidated chapel: San Damiano; here Francis heard the figure of Jesus on the crucifix speaking to him: ‘Francis, go rebuild My house; which as you see, it is all being destroyed.’ Initially St Francis took those words literally, and set about repairing the building, but later he came to the realization that his mission was much greater: restoration of spiritual life of the Church.
Rather flippantly, in our own current situation of crumbling buildings; I thought what an appropriate heavenly patron to have! Yes like St Francis we seek to rebuild the material edifice of our place of worship and encounter with God, but this remains a vain ambition if we seek to do it without the firm spiritual foundation of faith and prayer. St Francis points us to the real and lasting foundation of our life both as a parish and as individuals: are we built upon the solid foundations of Christ? Are our eyes fixed upon the life-giving cross of Christ which is the means to our rebuilding, our integration in to the life of the Blessed Trinity?
St Francis took significant periods of time for prayer throughout his life. This continues to be a challenge to us so often put the action first, but do not give as much time for prayer. Yet, when we see how prayer transformed and animated the life of St. Francis, it is a call to examine how we nourish ourselves, that we might have the mind and attitude of Christ. The Eucharist, scripture and prayer are our sources of nourishment for our active lives. St. Francis faced many challenges throughout his life and he turned to the Lord to inspire him to do what he needed to do. We face many challenges too, but we have the same opportunities available that St. Francis did to be nourished and to conform our thoughts, our ways and our attitudes to our Lord.
St Francis thoughts, attitudes and way of living were all shaped and strengthened by our Lord during these times of prayer. May our reflection on St Francis this weekend help us in our lives to be “instruments of peace” and living stones of God's holy Church, through our thoughts, attitudes and actions as they are moulded by our times of quiet and prayer. We need to know where our real strength comes from and be open to that life giving source.
Pope Francis’ homily during his pastoral visit to Assisi in 2013 speaks powerfully to us of our need to be primarily people and a parish of prayer.
'Where did Francis’s journey to Christ begin? It began with the gaze of the crucified Jesus. With letting Jesus look at us at the very moment that he gives his life for us and draws us to himself. Francis experienced this in a special way in the Church of San Damiano, as he prayed before the cross which I too will have an opportunity to venerate. On that cross, Jesus is depicted not as dead, but alive! Blood is flowing from his wounded hands, feet and side, but that blood speaks of life. Jesus’ eyes are not closed but open, wide open: he looks at us in a way that touches our hearts. The cross does not speak to us about defeat and failure; paradoxically, it speaks to us about a death which is life, a death which gives life, for it speaks to us of love, the love of God incarnate, a love which does not die, but triumphs over evil and death. When we let the crucified Jesus gaze upon us, we are re-created, we become ‘a new creation’. Everything else starts with this: the experience of transforming grace, the experience of being loved for no merits of our own, in spite of our being sinners.’
Is prayer for us a necessity or a luxury lodged on some wish list? Let us turn to St Francis, and invoke him: Teach us to remain before the cross, to let the crucified Christ gaze upon us, to let ourselves be enfolded in his mercy, recreated by his love, so that we may in our day, with His grace and under His direction, rebuild His Church.
CHURCH ROOF FUND: IMPORTANT UPDATE
Currently we have raised £35,379.16 (NB the £30,000 legacy of Teresa De Franca has been allocated to this fund). Thank you for all recent donations to the fund; all your contributions really make a difference.
The Building spec has been completed and sent out to tender last week with deadline of 25th September. We have been offered a sizeable interest free loan from another parish in the diocese which should enable us to go ahead with the works in the near future. It is imperative we keep the fundraising momentum going as the loan has to be repaid and other works are looming (such as development old school buildings etc). Please help where you can.
The next FUNDRAISING GROUP MEETING will take place in Grove House on Wednesday 7th October at 7.30pm.
"...JESUS CHRIST, THE BEGINNING AND THE END...
ALL TIME BELONGS TO HIM... AND ALL THE AGES..."
These words on the doors of the Church porch express perfectly the purpose of our parish. We are
a community centred round the Lord Jesus.
Saint Francis' Parish in the heart of Maidstone was founded in 1859 and since then has been the heart of the Catholic community in the Maidstone area. From it was founded the parishes of Saint Thomas More, West Malling; Holy Family, Park Wood; and Saint Peter's Bearsted. In addition to the mother church there are Mass Centres at St Luke's, Preston Hall, and at St Mary's Anglican Church at Nettlestead.
Today the faith which inspired its foundation almost 150 years ago continues to find its expression in a lively community bringing together people of many races all united by their love of God. It is this love which calls us all to work together to build up our community and to care for all in need.
I would like to welcome all who visit our website and hope you share something of our vision for the future of the church and parish.
Canon Luke - Parish Priest
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