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Endings and Beginnings

Live from St Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Parish of the Holy Redeemer, Huddersfield.

Live from St Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Parish of the Holy Redeemer, Huddersfield.

Life is full of endings and beginnings - moving from school to university or into work, changing jobs, day turning into night, and in both birth and death. Canon Ian Smith and Father Anthony Rosso reflect on how endings and beginnings are also present in the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church: in baptism, confirmation, holy communion, confession, marriage, holy orders, and the anointing of the sick. They are joined by Huddersfield Girls, Boys and Youth Choirs who lead the congregation in hymns including 'I heard the voice of Jesus say' and 'How shall I Sing that Majesty'.

Choral Director: Lucy Appleyard. Organist: David Pipe. Producer: Ben Collingwood.

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38 minutes

Script

Please note:

This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.

It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.

BBC RADIO 4: 
It's ten past eight and time to go live to Huddersfield – to St Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Parish of the Holy Redeemer – for Sunday Worship. The service is led by the Parish Priest, Canon Ian Smith, and by Father Anthony Rosso. Huddersfield Girls, Boys and Youth Choirs now lead a congregation of primary school children from across the area in the hymn: Christ be our Light.
 

MUSIC 1: Longing for light, we wait in darkness  (Dur: 3’00”)
Choir and Congregation

 
FR IAN:
Good morning.  In the beginning, God divided the light from the darkness.  It was - quite literally - the ‘dawn’ of creation!  As we begin our day with worship, somewhere in the world night is drawing on.  Although we believe God has no beginning and no end – our own lives are full of endings and beginnings: full of light and darkness.

New lives come into being, whilst others come to a close.  The school term is coming to an end. Many of the young people here in church from Catholic primary schools across the Huddersfield and Halifax Deaneries will be preparing for a new beginning at high school. And others will be leaving high school to start employment or university.
 
But let me begin with an ending of my own…this is my last month in the parish after 23 years – more than two thirds of my priestly ministry – spent here in Huddersfield.  During those years, I’ve been part of new Christians’ beginnings – through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. I’ve celebrated with couples setting out in their married life and also mourned with those whose loved ones’ earthly lives may have ended – but whose eternal life is just beginning.

Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we can ‘begin again’.  Each day we are called to examine our conscience, and acknowledge our failings before Almighty God – and so let’s call to mind our sins. 

ALL:  
I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words; in what I have done and in what I have failed to do: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.  Therefore, I ask Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.


FR IAN: 
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. 
ALL: Amen

MUSIC 2: Kyrie (Langlais - Messe d’Esqualquens  Dur: 1’00”)
Choir


FR IAN: 
Let us pray. God and Father of all gifts we praise you, the source of all we have and are.  Teach us to acknowledge always the many good things your infinite love has given us.  Help us to love you with all our heart and all our strength.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.
ALL: Amen.

FR IAN:
In everyday speech, the word ‘Apocalyptic’ conjures up a fearsome and fiery ending – but in the Book of Revelation, St John describes the end of time in terms of comfort, and coming home to spend eternity praising God who is the beginning and the end of all things.

[Congregation sit]


READER 1:  [Stella Shyanguya]

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.  He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.  Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’

And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

The word of the Lord.
ALL: Thanks be to God.


MUSIC 3: Psalm 150 (Mawby – Dur: 3’10”)
Choir and Congregation

 

FR IAN:
Above me is a stained glass window of St Stephen, the First Christian Martyr.  It’s dedicated to the memory of Canon Stephen Wells, one of my predecessors here as parish priest, who died on this – the seventh day of the seventh month, back in 1887. It reminds me of the continuity of worship in this place…but also of the symbolism throughout the Bible of the mystical number ‘seven’. 

God started his work of creation on the first day - and on the seventh day he rested.  It’s well known that there are Seven Deadly Sins - in fact they’re probably better-known than the Seven Sacraments!  For Catholics, all the Seven Sacraments are rites connected with endings and beginnings.  Most of them herald the end of an old way of life and the beginning of a new one in Christ. And the Sacrament instituted by Jesus himself at the Last Supper is the unending gift of the bread and wine which becomes his very self in Holy Communion: the Eucharist.
In a moment we’ll hear from Fr Anthony Rosso, but before that, one of our young choristers reads the account of the Last Supper from the Gospel according to Matthew.


READER 2:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and when he said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. ‘Take and eat;’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them. ‘Drink all of you from this, he said, ‘for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  [From now on, I tell you I shall not drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my father.’]

The Gospel of the Lord.
ALL:  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

FR TONY: 
It’s great to be back in Huddersfield; this was the first parish I worked in after I was ordained to the priesthood. Throughout the 5 years I served here, I instructed many young adults who were converting to Catholicism. Inevitably, the question “What is at the centre of the Catholic faith?” would arise at some point. Of course, I would say the answer is Christ. Jesus is at the centre of everything we do. Our faith begins and ends with Christ. When Jesus was with his disciples at the Last Supper, he gave them, and indeed gave all of us, a precious gift. Whether you call it Holy Communion or the Holy Eucharist, we believe that it’s through this gift that Christ is at the centre of the Church in a very special way. Catholics call the Eucharist the ‘source and summit’ of the Catholic Faith. We are a Church upheld and sustained by Christ in the Eucharist.

When Jesus’ earthly ministry was about to draw to a close, his presence among us was certainly not at an end.  In a sense, it would have a new beginning with the institution of the Eucharist, even though this was one of Jesus’ last acts on earth.  When he sat down to supper with his apostles and told them, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He doesn’t say ‘do it sometimes…when you feel like it…’ or anything like that. He says, “Do this as often as you eat of it.” He gave us a model to follow and that is why at each and every Mass we always celebrate the Eucharist.

This morning is a short act of prayer and worship – but at any moment of the day across the Universal Church, there is a Mass being celebrated somewhere in the world, connecting us to one another and to Jesus. Every minute of every day, Christ is present among his people.

We all have moments in our lives when we must make decisions; times when whether we like it or not, things must end and we must move on to something new. The Sacraments in the Church are there to help us do just that. The Sacrament of my Ordination to the Priesthood was the beginning of a new chapter in my life, as would have been the Sacrament of Marriage if that had been my vocation instead – because both of these life-choices are regarded as ‘vocations’ and Sacraments by the Catholic Church.

Whatever may be troubling us in life, through the Sacraments of Reconciliation, and of course the Eucharist, we are given what we need for a clean slate and the grace to make amends and start again – and that’s as true for me as a priest as it is for a member of the Laity.  Whatever our situation, the Eucharist is the place for us to encounter Christ and allow his real presence to transform and guide us. This precious sacrament not only renews the Church, it also renews each and every one of us. Jesus fills us with his grace, he becomes a part of us, we become a part of him, and we are united to one another.

The hymn Tantum Ergo is sung by Catholics to pay homage and give praise to Our Lord in the Eucharist. It describes how through this Sacrament, the Old Testament Laws are fulfilled by the New. 

MUSIC 4: Tantum ergo (Andriessen - 1’20”)
Choir

 
FR TONY:
When I reflect on the last 12 months, I’m made aware of the many beginnings and endings I personally have experienced in that short time. This time last year, I finished my assignment as assistant priest at this parish, and moved to a new parish in Bradford. I’ve had to say goodbye to friends, but I’ve also begun many new and wonderful friendships.

Back in February of this year, I also had to say goodbye to my mother who passed away after a long battle with cancer. I’ve had to begin a new time in my life without her support, love and friendship. But as the famous song by Sinatra tells us, “That’s life.”  Beginnings and endings are quite simply a part of reality.

It’s something I have learned a lot about over the nearly five years I’ve been a priest in this country. This is especially true since I became a chaplain in the local hospitals and it is through this ministry that I encounter beginnings and endings on a regular basis. One thing I have come to appreciate, is how the Holy Spirit is present at both. He is present when a child is welcomed into this world with joy. He is also present in the final hours we spend in this world, as he provides comfort, hope, and peace. And of course he’s also present at every moment in between, giving us strength and support to handle whatever comes next.

Every ending and beginning reminds us of the importance of turning to the Lord for help each day. They’re opportunities to deepen our friendship with God. And as that friendship grows, we become more aware that all the endings we encounter in this life are also opportunities to be renewed with God’s grace, to help us prepare to receive the new beginning that Christ promises.
Sometimes endings can be good, or at least bittersweet. Sometimes they’re necessary, especially if we must let go of things that are not good for us.

But Endings, as we know, can all too often be painful, and that’s just a part of human nature. ‘The End’ has finality to it that logic seemingly tells us we can’t escape from. As human beings, we are often afraid of change and prone to worry and fear. However, we must remember what Jesus tells us in the Scriptures: ‘Do not be afraid.’ All our endings lead to new beginnings. That is what Jesus reminds us of so many times in the Gospels. And as we heard in our first reading he says, “See, I am making all things new.”

We are made new in Christ. St Paul tells the Corinthians: “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Through Christ, we are given the pledge of new life. What humanity once believed to be true about ‘The End’ is no longer relevant, because of Christ. Even death has no power over us. It is not the end of the story.

[Stand up choirs and congregation before last para]
 

MUSIC 5:  I heard the voice of Jesus say (Kingsfold – Dur:  2’30”)
Choir and Congregation

 

[Congregation sit]

FR IAN: 
There’s been a revival of interest in making pilgrimages.  From mediaeval times, pilgrims mirrored life’s journey: setting forth in hope and trepidation; cheerfully enduring hardships; relying on strangers for food and shelter; praying at wayside shrines; drinking at holy wells and – (hopefully!) -  reaching their destination in one piece with the help and protection of God and of His Blessed Mother.

Many Christians but especially in the Catholic Church, honour Mary – given by Jesus as Mother to us all - as she points the way to her Son. In this pilgrim song from 14th century Catalonia – and throughout history – Our Lady is described as a shining star: guiding all pilgrims – young and old, rich and poor – who set out on mountainous pathways, bringing them ever closer to the end of their Pilgrim Way.

MUSIC 6: Stella Splendens (Llibre Vermell de Montserrat – Dur: 1’53”)
Choir

 

FR IAN:
Confident that God listens to our prayers we pray for our needs and the needs of the whole world.

STELLA:
For the whole Church: that all Christians may grow in the love of Christ, following the example of his Apostles.
Lord, hear us.
ALL: Lord, graciously hear us.

READER 2:
For our nation at this time of uncertainty: that all politicians may work for the common good.
Lord, hear us.
ALL: Lord, graciously hear us.

STELLA:
For peace in our troubled world: that the Holy Spirit will guide all people in the ways of peace.
Lord, hear us.
ALL: Lord, graciously hear us.

READER 2:
For the sick, the housebound and the lonely: that they might experience Christ’s healing grace.
Lord, hear us.
ALL: Lord, graciously hear us.

STELLA:
For the faithful departed: that they might find everlasting joy and peace in the company of the saints.
Lord, hear us.
ALL:  Lord, graciously hear us.

READER 2:
We ask Mary, the mother of the risen Lord to pray for us.

ALL:
Hail Mary, full of grace!  The Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.
 

[Congregation stand]


FR IAN:
We sum up our prayers and petitions in the words our Saviour gave us:

ALL: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

FR IAN:
Our final hymn reminds us once again of the God who has no beginning and no end: it’s a joyful ending to our worship to contemplate singing His praise for all eternity…

…and may the blessing of Almighty God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you all, now and evermore.
ALL: Amen.
 

MUSIC 7: How shall I Sing that Majesty (Coe Fen – Dur: 4’00” max)
Choir and Congregation

 


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