30 November - The Need of the Church and the Value of the Church
After having over various weeks reflected on the Church as a Building or God’s Household, as the Body of Christ or as the Grapevine, I think I have said enough to make clear Jesus’ plan.  Obviously His plan is that we belong to Him and to each other. Therefore we cannot be a true or complete Christian on our own.

Each image has brought out something different as well. In each image though Jesus is central. He is the Keystone in the Building. He is the Head of the Body and He is the Vine or the Trunk of the Grapevine.

In all of them these images also show how crucial Jesus is. Without Him there is no Church.

Let’s keep growing in our personal relationship with Jesus in Faith, prayer, love and trust. This will automatically connect us to everyone else in the Church who are part of Him.

Likewise whenever we gather with other Church members - for a social, a parish meeting, a prayer meeting and especially the Eucharist, we will connect even more closely with Him.

23 November - The Church as the ‘Vine’ Pt2
Please begin this reflection by reading John 15: 1-8.

You can see there that this image of the Grapevine speaks also about producing fruit. Jesus is saying that we just can’t belong to the vine. We are called to produce fruit by the way we live and use our gifts.

As Jesus come to announce the Gospel - the Good News of God’s presence among us and God’s deep love for us - so we are called to produce fruit or share the joy of the Gospel. We are called, in other words, to make known to others God’s presence and deep love for all.

First and foremost let’s keep in mind each day of this week the words attributed to St Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary use words”.

St Francis is saying to us to believe strongly first and foremost ourselves, in the presence of God in us and His deep love for us. This in turn will help others, who know us, to be likewise aware of God’s presence in them and His deep love for them. Because we are branches attached to the vine of Christ, our very Faith and example will produce this fruit in others.

16 November - The Church as the 'Vine
I want to return to my reflections on the Church. Over the past weeks we have reflected on the scriptural images of the Church as a Building and then as a Body - as the Body of Christ.

I want now to reflect on the beautiful image Jesus has given us of the grapevine, “I am the Vine and you are the branches” (Jn15)

Like the ‘body’ image, this image of the Vine is a living image of the Church. As the sap of the vine runs right through all the branches, so too Jesus’ pulsating life flows in each of us. He is in us and we in Him.

What a privilege - what an unimaginable gift!

Each day this week, spend a few minutes pondering this in awe and wonder. The very life of Jesus, Son of God, flowing in me. We could pause and do this, for e.g. just before we begin our daily prayers.

9 November - ‘All Souls Day’ Pt 2
Can God, as I mentioned last week, use or apply our prayers for our deceased, not only in the present, but also for them in the past?

God certainly can do this. Our Faith, supported strongly and taught by our Church, says so.

A great example of this is Mary the mother of Jesus. The Church teaches that in God’s plan Mary was conceived and born free from Original Sin. Now only Jesus’ saving work of Redemption gained forgiveness of sin. Mary was conceived well before Jesus was born, of course, let alone before He died and rose.

The Church teaches that Mary’s Immaculate Conception was brought about, or made possible, by the anticipated merits of Jesus’ Redemptive work. Now Jesus would have died on the cross at least some fifty years after Mary, His mother, was conceived. God applied the merits of Jesus’ Redemptive work to Mary in the past - some fifty years earlier.

Yes God can use our prayers for our deceased in many ways and certainly for their past as well as for the present.

2 November -‘All Souls Day’
Today I interrupt my reflections on the images of the Church because yesterday we celebrated All Saints Day and today All Souls. These two Feasts speak so much to us about the Church - how those in Heaven and those in Purgatory and ourselves on Earth are all one family and how we can help one another. Years ago we spoke of the Church in Heaven as the Church Triumphant, of those in Purgatory as the Church Suffering and us here on earth as the Church Militant.

November is the month of the Holy Souls and so I would like to say a word about praying for them.

The tradition of doing this is a long standing Tradition of the Church. In the Second Book of Maccabees 12:44  it says ‘..it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loose from their sins’ and in the Book of Revelations 21:27 it states that ‘Nothing impure or defiled shall enter Heaven’.

None of us are without sin, none of us are totally pure or totally in love with God. As a result we cannot fully behold and embrace God’s beauty, magnificence and glory. We need to be purified. Therefore we pray that this happen for those who have died in order that they fully fit to embrace our wonderful God.

There is another reason that I have for praying and continuing to pray for our loved ones even for the ones who are now fully with God in heaven. We must remember that our prayers uttered now in the present, are to God who in eternity sees all past, present and future as one. And God who is not limited by time, can apply our present prayers to our loved ones - even some years ago back in their past. In other words, our prayers now can be used by God even to help them die.

Next week I will talk more about this wondrous ability of our God.