Due to the pandemic, I had spent two Easters in Rome without being able to go to the Easter Sunday Mass at St Peter’s. The first year we were in lockdown and the second time the whole seminary was in isolation after one of us caught Covid and ended up in hospital – he has, thank God, made a complete recovery since.
The Ukraine as a country has suffered very much and yet has been blessed by apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Kievan Rus – the land of Rus (862-1242 CE), a federation of peoples located in the region of modern-day Belarus, Ukraine and part of Russia, was the first European state to be dedicated to the Mother of God. This was done by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in 1037.
It is believed that in about 1505 the Blessed Virgin appeared in Hrushiv and that the local people had planted a willow tree at the site. Sometime later a spring of water appeared beneath the tree.
Pope Francis and the Bishops have each appealed for a time of prayer and fasting for a peaceful outcome to the invasion of Ukraine, especially on Ash Wednesday. There are calls that a peaceful period of calm and de-escalation will prevent full-blown war. Our prayers will be heard and answered.
Cynthia Cecilia Gibbs, my Mum, was born on 16 October 1930 in Rangoon, Burma, to William Gibbs, a sergeant in Rangoon City police force and his wife Minnie. In 1933 her sister Jeanette was born. Her early years were spent travelling around Burma due to the postings her father received. In early 1939 the family moved to the UK, settling in Belvedere in 1942. Mum attended Bexley Technical High School for Girls (now Townley Grammar). She then undertook further studies at Cheltenham Commercial College in Gloucestershire, gaining her qualifications in London Chamber of Commerce English and Pitman shorthand and typing. In the mid to late 1940s Mum worked as a typist/secretary for a number of companies.
The New Year gives us the opportunity to visit Our Lord, incarnate and revealed to the nations, at His Epiphany. Unlike the Magi bringing their gifts, He is not expecting Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, but ourselves – offered without attachment to other things, but empty-handed, with only love and desire stirring our soul and the joy of His presence. It is this joy we carry in our lives that will be an attraction to others to want to come and see too. The Holy Spirit is always active and will be our guide and support to work at evangelising (simply calling or telling) others to see Him for themselves. Many will resist and have excuses but at least they were invited.