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Assumption: 15 August 2017

Reflection* by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady15th August 2017

When Saint Augustine thought of Mary’s great faith, he wrote that it caused her, ‘to conceive first of all in her heart, before ever in her womb.’ Mary believed that the message of the Angel Gabriel would be fulfilled. She was blessed because of her faith. And she needed faith. When the birth of her Son came about, there was no room for them in the inn. What a start! Where is God, is what I might have asked? Joseph was also a person of faith who supported and encouraged Mary.

Joseph’s head must have been in a spin a lot of the time. Not only are his wedding plans scrapped but he begins to get God’s messages in dreams. He follows God’s dreams and they become his. He with Mary and their Son, become refugees in Egypt. They were not economic refugees. This was the way God used to save the life of His Son from the treachery of Herod. The Holy Family make great patron saints for the many refugees in our time.

When Mary and Joseph got to the Temple to present Jesus to God, an extraordinary greeting from Simeon awaited them. Mary is told ‘a sword of sorrow’ that will pierce her heart. For a young mother, this is tough going. But Calvary and the Cross was yet to come.

It is hard to imagine how great a challenge to Mary’s faith Calvary turned out to be. Yet, she stood beneath the Cross as her Son died. She could do nothing for her son and that may have been the worst part of her suffering.

[The weekly Bulletin will be back on the first weekend of September 2017.]

 

 

 

In this month of August, some people will be away from home. At St Joseph’s, we will be blessed with many tourists to Paris who will join us for Mass. Summer is a time when we can give God some more time. Like Mary, we need to hear God giving us His message. There is not one of us who is not called to do some one thing that nobody else is asked or capable of doing. Only you will know what this for you. God has chosen to need you as He chose to need Mary and Joseph. What a privilege is ours to be chosen by God.

After Pentecost, we hear little of Mary. The church has given us the teaching that Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven. This is a gift for us and a wonderful promise that one day we too will meet her. Her Assumption is a pledge to us that she is waiting for us as our Mother. She already knows and cares for us.

My prayer for those who read these few lines is that you will be richly blessed this summer. I hope and pray that you will grow in the knowledge and love of God in the same way as Mary did.

Please keep me in your prayers that God will reveal ever more clearly what is being asked of me. Like Mary, I hope that I can have faith to keep listening as Mary always did. I could never hope to match Mary’s faith, but to be even a pale reflection of Mary’s faith will be enough for me.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us your children and keep us safe._______

 

17th Sunday 30 July 2017

Reflection* by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

What do you most want from God on this final Sunday of July? Some people will answer that a win on the Lotto would help! We all have different needs and the urgent prayer of each can count on the prayer of the Church. We never pray alone. We are firstborn within a large family. In a family, the needs of one are the needs of all – or so we hope!

The young King Solomon asked for wisdom. He wanted an understanding mind to be able to discern between good and evil. His prayer was answered and to this day, we hear the phrase, ‘it would take the wisdom of Solomon to decide what to do for the best.’ Wisdom is a great, if rare, treasure.

Oftentimes the gifts of God do not lie on the surface. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. It is like a fine pearl of great price. It is like a net that catches a cross-section of fish, some of which will be thrown back into the sea. One of my weakness is that I like to see what God is doing. It is not that God plays ‘hide and seek’ but His gifts are too profound for us to grasp without the Spirit guiding us.

The lovely truth is that there is a pearl of great price for each of us. That is why I began with asking what each of us is searching for on this final Sunday of July. There is a price to be paid for the pearl that has our name on it from God as His gift. There is a cautious side to me – what I have, I will hold. But to get the pearl of great price, I must sell all I have so as to buy it. What might that mean, I wonder? You can answer for yourself! I will try to share my search.

There are times when I wonder if God has new challenges for me, but I’m afraid to search because of the price? The pictures of the eyes of children wandering our world because of losing parents, home, school and friends by the horrors of war and brutality, haunt me. Why is my life so different? Am I being called, even at this late stage of life, to act like Abraham and leave for a place that God will show me?  Could I make a difference or would I be an added burden to people already struggling? I don’t know the answers to these questions. They worry me.

The state of our church leaves me uneasy. There are so many survivors damaged by the sins and criminal acts of those who have accepted ordination and professed to live by the Beatitudes. I’m still shocked by what was going on around me over the past four decades and, truthfully, I didn’t see what was happening. Should I have seen these atrocious abuses? Can I now offer any witness to how abhorrent all this is to me and how it has reduced my joy in priesthood and religious life?

Is God asking me to pursue this and find some way of witnessing to the tears and heartache of God? Maybe some of us are asked to find our voices again and to to act in a more assertive way to show how poorly our church has come out of these awful times? I don’t know the answers to these questions. Please pray for me as I continue to search for the pearl of great price. Let some of the wisdom of Solomon find a home in my heart this summer. Give me the courage to do, Lord, what you are asking of me.

16th Sunday 23 July 2017

Reflection* by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

The Passionist Novitiate’s purpose was described to those who entered as being ‘to weed out those postulants unsuitable and send them away.’ I presume other novitiates and seminaries had much the same purpose. History has proved how unsuccessful this turned out to be. Report after report on child and adult abuse, financial irregularities and other failures have left a sad legacy of a time when big numbers were entering religious congregations and seminaries.

‘To weed out’ is contrary to the mind of Christ. To assess vocational suitability and to help heal weaknesses and defects is totally laudable. In Our Lord’s time, the Pharisees (‘the separated ones’) wanted Him to separate the bad from the good. They took the high moral ground and looked down on those who did not, in their estimation, measure up.

Jesus wouldn’t go down that road. It’s not His way. He had all sorts of people around him – the learned and the ignorant; good living and those who were not; tax collectors and prostitutes. There must have been some people who wondered when He would weed out the unsuitable to set up a community of worthy, good people. I’m grateful to Our Lord that he doesn’t go in for weeding – I would be gone a long time ago.

In human life weeding out has a tragic history. Weeding out for concentration camps, ethnic cleansing, racism, sectarianism - all sought to identify society’s “weeds”.  It continues today and is visible in much of our society.

How tragic it is when greater power over nature leads to new and very sinister powers being used over nature. The unborn child can be judged to not match the standards of society and abortion becomes an acceptable ‘solution’. Then, at the other end of life, the old, the seriously sick are seen as burdensome. Euthanasia is seen as the ‘solution’. How terribly sad. Once ‘weeding out’ in any shape or form begins, there is no telling where it will end. Thank you, Lord, for being so clear that You alone are the One who decides the fate of people. God makes us and is the One who will settle our final destiny.

It saddens me to admit that I too engage in ‘weeding out’. Even if I don’t always speak it out loud, I slip into having people classified as ‘troublemakers’, ‘misfits’ or some misguided category. Imagine if Jesus had gone down this road – Peter would be gone as a leader after he denied His Master three times. Christ did not ‘weed out’ Judas. Would Judas survive in the church today?

It is only God who has ‘eyes’ to see into the depth of the soul of one of His children. He is gentle enough for this task. Imagine how wonderful life would be if I could trust God to do the ‘weeding out’. There are some things that only God can do. No wonder, we are counselled not to judge. While we accept judges in our civil courts, before the Divine Court the outcast, the sinner and the unlikely are all candidates for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank God!

 

15th Sunday 16 July 2017

Reflection* by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

It amazes me what people remember from the past. From time to time, someone will remind me of words I used in a sermon, a retreat or a discussion many years before. I may have long forgotten what I said then. Somehow, though, it is rewarding that some words of mine lasted over time.

The Word of God, of course, is in a different league from any words of mine. The Word of God never returns empty to Him. It carries out His will. It succeeds in what it was sent to do. That is powerful. But then God is powerful and almighty.

Words can have an amazing life-span. The day I left home for the Passionist Novitiate, I remember the last words my mother spoke to me – ‘come back, if it doesn’t work out’. She was no believer in a ‘Mother’s vocation’ often spoken about in the past. The parent wanted the priest in the family and the pressure was put on to go through with it, come what may.

Those words were the last she spoke to me – she died 6 months later. But they are still life-giving words. They still give me the freedom to choose my vocation every day I awake. There is not any need to feel that I owe it to a parent’s memory to continue.

Sadly, our words can also damage and in some instances, kill. Words of racial hatred, religious intolerance and bigotry have been known to stoke up violence that can end in the death of another. What a distance from the King of Peace and Lord of Love!

One of the defences that I can use to block the power and beauty of God’s word is deafness. That deafness can be accidental or deliberate. Did you ever get the feeling that the other person hears your words, but is not listening? As you speak, they are looking at their phone, the computer screen or thinking of how they can tell a better story from their life than you have told.

The wish of God is that His Word fall into the rich soil of hearts open and willing to receive. Last week, the heartfelt prayer of Jesus was great – ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, that is what it pleased you to do.’ God’s Word is utterly simple. I can fall into the trap of making it complicated. Then, I can lead you astray by preaching a complicated message.

Sometimes, I can forget that it is never too early to attune the ears of ‘mere children’ to the Word of God revealed in the Scriptures. From after the summer at St Joseph’s, along with the Gospel Group for God’s little ones, 4 – 6-year olds will have a reading of a Bible story or passage each Sunday morning. What a blessing for the children and their families.

Another source of the seed planted by God taking root is in the Wednesday Bible Study. People there receive the Word and are helped to let it bear fruit. Other groups like Men’s Spirituality, Women’s Spirituality Ministry, also bring about a rich sowing of the Word.

 

 

14th Sunday 9 July 2017

Reflection* by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}

“Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.” This song goes back to 1971 – the year I set out on the road as a priest – and it could be heard at many prayer-meetings and during Masses at school retreats. Anne Murray was the first to record this song and others who recorded it include Elvis Presley. Younger people can look at it on YouTube to see what an ‘old timer’ like me remembers from my youth!

Putting your hand in the hand of somebody else is a gesture of intimacy. Look at a child going hand in hand with Mom or Dad. Both are secure in holding the other’s hand. This is trust at its best. In the safety of the parent’s hand, there is nowhere that the child will not go. Not only is the child happy to be led, but gets great pleasure from being led by the parent.

Somewhere along the line of growing up, we got out of holding our parents’ hands. We didn’t do this consciously, but, would not want our friends to see us hold hands with parents after a certain age.

As we grow up, our need of trust and affection, that we relished as a small child, does not disappear. Maybe in some ways, as we grow and develop the need for intimacy, affection and someone to trust absolutely becomes more urgent. But who is there for us and how do we ‘cling on’ to people who will cherish us? Not easy.

Maybe I am wrong, but I sometimes wonder if we did not let go of the hand of Jesus as we grew out of holding our parents’ hand? The words of the Gospel song to put our hand into the hand of the man from Galilee, bears revisiting. Maybe only ‘mere children’ fully understand holding hands with Jesus in total trust.____

*I’m indebted to Fr Patrick Rogers, C.P. and Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland for their reflections on the Sunday Readings.

When I began to grow up, I saw in myself a growing independent trait. I didn’t need anyone’s hand to hold onto – or so I thought. I could make it alone and while I would not dare say it, maybe I also felt less dependent on God. In a way, I may have slipped into the error of thinking that I could do without God now that I was older and wiser! I blush when I read what I have written! But, that is how I felt as I grew up.

A child depends on people – parents, family, friends. As adults, we may exchange this dependence on people for a dependence on things – for some it is money, success, status, alcohol or whatever is our ‘fix’. For a while, I may feel sorry for people who depend on people – ‘I can plough my own furrow.’ But I can’t. I need you and I need God. That is how I was created and that is how I will be happy. One day, a prop that held me up falls, and I feel the pain of being alone with no hand to reach out to hold. Those in relationships, reach out to hold hands. Never be embarrassed to tell each other how much you mean to each other. Don’t be afraid of admitting your dependence.

For some of us, there is not always a hand to hold when we are afraid. We would love to have one, but that is the way life is for us. There is ‘the hand of the man from Galilee’. He stilled the waters and He calmed the Sea. He can equally still fear and quieten nightmares. This He loves doing.

He never lets go of our hand as long as we want to hold His. In his eyes, we are always his children. More than I realise, He knows that the child inside me is often afraid and insecure. The mask of daily living tries valiantly to cover these with a smile. Then, each time I close the door at the end of the day, I must tell Jesus about hurts, failures and my sins. He smiles and tightens His grip. There will never be a time when I don’t need to put my hand ‘in the hand of the man from Galilee.’

 

StJoeParis

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56
stjosephparis@wanadoo.fr

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