Dear friends,

Although Pentecost points to an ending – the end of the Easter season – it is in fact more properly a beginning – when we commemorate the birthday of the Church. Fifty days after his Resurrection, the disciples gathered in the name of Jesus, to receive the gift of his Holy Spirit – that same gift by which Christians today continue to work and witness in Christ’s Name. We will celebrate Pentecost this coming Sunday: please remember to wear something red to Mass!

St Thomas Aquinas wrote this beautiful meditation on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit given to Christians (to “the saints”), linking them to the traditional Spirit-imagery of a dove:

For the dove dwells beside the running stream, in order that, on perceiving the hawk, it may plunge in and escape. This refers to the gift of WISDOM, whereby the saints dwell beside the running waters of Holy Scripture, in order to escape the assaults of the devil. Again, the dove prefers the more choice seeds. This refers to the gift of KNOWLEDGE, whereby the saints make choice of sound doctrines, with which they nourish themselves. Further, the dove feeds the brood of other birds. This refers to the gift of COUNSEL, with which the saints, by teaching and example, feed men who have been the brood, i.e. imitators, of the devil. Again, the dove tears not with its beak. This refers to the gift of UNDERSTANDING, wherewith the saints do not rend sound doctrines, as the heretics do. Again, the dove has no gall. This refers to the gift of PIETY, by reason of which the saints are free from unreasonable anger. Again, the dove builds its nest in the cleft of a rock. This refers to the gift of FORTITUDE, wherewith the saints build their nest, i.e. take refuge and hope, in the death-wounds of Christ, who is the Rock of strength. Lastly, the dove has a plaintive song. This refers to the gift of FEAR, wherewith the saints delight in bewailing sins‘ (ST III, q.39 a.6 ad 4)

These seven gifts of the Spirit are also referenced in the prayer of Confirmation, and it is thus apposite to remind you that Bishop Jonathan will be visiting us to celebrate our secondary patronal festival of St Leonard, and administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, on Sunday, 5 November at 5pm. If you would like to be confirmed, please speak to Fr Richard: Confirmation preparation will begin in September.

Before then, we have a very busy few months in prospect here at St Mary’s. A reminder that there will be noMorning Prayer, Adoration or Mass in church this coming Saturday morning (27 May), to allow us to join our friends at St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn, at 10.30am, for their Patronal Festival. If you would like to travel together, please meet at Kenton Station at 9.30am.

Further, and following last Sunday’s planning meeting, please note that the Parish Barbecue will take place in the memorial garden on Saturday, 15 July, from 3pm. Tickets will be available after Mass this Sunday and every Sunday henceforward, from Gloria – priced £12.50 (adults) and £5 (under-18s). Adult tickets should be purchased as a pair (£25), to encourage everyone to bring a friend. Please bring your own drinks: offers of sides, salads and desserts will also be much appreciated – please speak to Gloria.

If any more young people (11-18) would like to join us next week on Thursday evening, 1 June, for “Pizza in the Vicarage”, please sign up in church this Sunday. Thank you to those who have kindly offered to sponsor a pizza for this party (£10ea) – further donations will be gratefully received.
Please also sign up in church to come on the parish outing to Hampton Court Palace the afternoon of Sunday, 9 July – a wonderful opportunity to visit this historic site behind-the-scenes and free-of-charge.

Following the success of our parish breakfast last Friday, with Bishop Lusa, there will be another buffet breakfast after the 9.30am Mass on Friday, 16 June, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Join us for Mass and a meal of delicious fruit and pastries, free of charge!

St Mary’s will be hosting the next meeting of the Deanery Synod on Tuesday, 4 July (beginning with Mass at 7.30pm). This is not least an opportunity to showcase the wonderful hospitality for which we are justly renowned: please let Gloria know if you can contribute some light refreshments (finger/buffet food) – we anticipate welcoming approximately 50 people from other churches in the Harrow Deanery. Volunteers to assist on the evening itself would also be most helpful: please speak to Fr Richard.

Finally, please find attached an invitation to Holy Redeemer Day, at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell, on Exmouth Market – on Friday, 14 July at 7pm: all welcome.

Come, Holy Spirit! 🔥🕊️

Fr Richard