Book of the Month: Under Milk Wood

To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble streets silent and the hunched, courters’ and rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

For the first time we will be reading a play this month – Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. Our play selection this month included Look Back in Anger (John Osborne), Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw), Mother Courage (Bertolt Brecht), Billy Liar (Keith Waterhouse) and A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams). There was no contest actually as Under Milk Wood proved to be the overwhelming favourite. Though Brecht did get 2 votes.

Our next book club

Please remember that anyone can join our Book Club. The next one will be held on Tuesday 6th July at 7.30pm. At this event we will discuss Under Milk Wood and select our next book.

Buying the book

  • You can buy this book from Waterstones, WHSmith or other bookshops in Cardiff.
  • Blackwells sells it and the price is usually the same as Amazon and includes FREE Delivery.
  • It can be purchased quite cheaply on Kindle (around £4.99 I believe)
  • If you type the title in to Google and click the Shopping tab, you can find quite a few sellers (New and used)
  • If Amazon is out of stock, check Amazon “New” or “Used” options from other sellers through Amazon. Kindle is another option. Waterstones and Blackwells sell it as do many suppliers on eBay. 

Can anyone join the Book Club?

Of course! To join the St Helen’s Book Club, please click this link. You can then enter your details and you will be sent joining instructions. Alternatively, you can always email Canon John on caerphilly@rcadc.org.

The Easter Triduum

On Holy Saturday, after a day in the tomb with Christ, the Church gathers for the great Easter Vigil and Mass. If you cannot join in, in person or live-stream, try to gather as a family with a large candle, the children’s Baptismal candles, and a candle each for the adults. By their light, read some of the old
testament readings, at least the 3rd one, Exodus 14:15 – 15:1; then the Mass reading, Romans 6:3-11. Then sing a good Alleluia and read the Gospel, Mark 16:1-7. And have a late night party!

And on Easter Sunday, if you don’t get to the Morning Mass, then after
the Easter Egg hunt, or just before your Easter meal, read together the
disciples’ race, discovery, and joy: John 20: 1-9.

Here are the service sheets for each of the three-days of the Triduum. You can download and print off or simply click and view them on your iPad or Smartphone.

The first document below contains the Maundy Thursday liturgy  for the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper (7.30pm). At the end of that liturgy it says that compline will be celebrated at 9.45pm, so you will need the last, large document, for compline tonight, and for the office of Readings and Morning Prayer tomorrow and on holy Saturday. The second document is the service sheet for the good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion (3.00pm). The third document is for the great Vigil and Mass of Easter, Holy Saturday, 8.30pm. And the fourth document for the Mass of Easter in the day (10.30am).

Maundy Thursday (PDF)

Good Friday (Word, PDF)

Easter Vigil and Mass (Word, PDF)

Easter Morning (Word, PDF)

The Prayer of the Church for the Easter Triduum (PDF)

March Book of the Month – The President is Missing

Last month’s book of the month was Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and we had a very good discussion about the book on Tuesday. This month we have gone for a political thriller and Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President is Missing just pipped John le Carré’s Agent Running in the Field.

Book blurb

Here’s a bit of blurb about the book:

In an unprecedented collaboration, James Patterson and President Bill Clinton have joined forces for an incendiary thrill-ride, told with gripping factual accuracy only a former President can bring.

An unprecedented collaboration between former US President Bill Clinton and bestselling thriller writer James Patterson. The President is Missingbrings together first class fictional credentials, with unique inside information on the workings of the White House and the president’s inner circle.

The President is Missing.

Amid an international crisis, the impossible has happened. A sitting U.S. President has disappeared.

What follows is the most dramatic three days any president has ever faced – and maybe the most dramatic three days in American history. And it could all really happen.

Full of details only a president could know, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have written the most authentic – and gripping – presidential thriller ever.

What people are saying

The dream team delivers big time … Clinton’s insider secrets and Patterson’s storytelling genius make this the political thriller of the decade.’ – Lee Child

A bullet train of a thriller.The Day of the Jackal for the twenty-first century.’ – A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window

‘This book moves like Air Force One. Big and fast.’ – Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series

“Working on a book about a sitting President — drawing on what I know about the job, life in the White House, and the way Washington works — has been a lot of fun. And working with Jim has been terrific. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.”

— Bill Clinton

Our next book club

Please remember that anyone can join our Book Club. The next one will be held on Tuesday 6th April at 7.30pm. At this event we will discuss The President is Missing and select our next book.

Buying the book

  • You can buy this book from Waterstones, WHSmith or other bookshops in Cardiff
  • It can be purchased quite cheaply on Kindle (around £3.99 I believe)
  • If you type the title in to Google and click the Shopping tab, you can find quite a few sellers (New and used)
  • If Amazon is out of stock, check Amazon “New” or “Used” options from other sellers through Amazon. Kindle is another option. Waterstones and Blackwells sell it as do many suppliers on eBay.

Can anyone join the Book Club?

Of course! To join the St Helen’s Book Club, please click this link. You can then enter your details and you will be sent joining instructions. Alternatively, you can always email Canon John on caerphilly@rcadc.org.

Ash Wednesday

A Liturgy for the Home

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day on which Catholics traditionally observe fasting and abstinence. This means resisting eating between meals (fasting) and avoiding eating meat (abstaining). Many Catholics also attend Mass or have special prayer liturgies when they receive ashes on their foreheads. This year you may be celebrating a liturgy with your family at home.

Please follow the service by opening (downloading) the Ash Wednesday Service or even printing it off.

Important Notice

PLEASE BE AWARE:
The new, much more contagious strain of the Corona Virus urges us all to take serious precautions.
So, like several other local churches, the churches of Saint Helen Caerphilly and Saint Peter Bargoed will close after Christmas day. From Saturday until further notice there will be no public Mass in either church.
Christmas Mass will be celebrated, as advertised.
However despite the apparent success of the strict measures used in both churches to keep us all as safe as possible, I urge anyone with health issues, or past retirement age, to seriously consider, in the words of Mr Drakeford, ‘not what you can do, but what you should do’, for our own safety and for that of our fellow-parishioners. If, on consideration, you decide not to take your pre-booked place, please inform the Parish office caerphilly@rcadc.org.

World Gifts for Christmas

What can I give to my family and friends when they already seem to have everything?


Cafod World Gifts Catalogues are available as you leave church, or on their website. World Gifts are a range of virtual charity gifts that will delight the family and friends you give them to as alternative Christmas presents, and at the same time help transform the lives of families living in poverty.

December book of the month – The Thursday Murder Club

Having just finished Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming, the St Helen’s Church Book Club now turn its sights to a murder mystery by Richard Osman’s whose debut novel, The Thursday Murder Club, appears to be lighting up the book charts.

Book blurb

I was at lunch, this is two or three months ago, and it must have been a Monday, because it was shepherd’s pie. Elizabeth said she could see that I was eating, but wanted to ask me a question about knife wounds, if it wasn’t inconvenient?

I said, ‘Not at all, of course, please,’ or words to that effect. I won’t always remember everything exactly, I might as well tell you that now. So she opened a manila folder, and I saw some typed sheets and the edges of what looked like old photographs. Then she was straight into it.

Elizabeth asked me to imagine that a girl had been stabbed with a knife. I asked what sort of knife she  had been stabbed with, and Elizabeth said probably just a normal kitchen knife. John Lewis. She didn’t say that, but that was what I pictured.

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be octogenarians, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

What people are saying

‘Such a beacon of pleasure’ KATE ATKINSON

‘So smart and funny. Deplorably good’ IAN RANKIN

‘A gripping read’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Thrilling, moving, laugh-out-loud funny’ MARK BILLINGHAM

‘As the bodies pile up, and more is revealed of the lives and loves of Joyce, Ibrahim, Ron and Elizabeth, you can’t help cheering them on – and hoping to meet them again soon’ THE TIMES, CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH

‘Mystery fans are going to be enthralled’ HARLAN COBEN

‘One of the most enjoyable books of the year’ DAILY EXPRESS

‘Smart, compassionate, warm, moving and so VERY funny’ MARIAN KEYES

‘As gripping as it is funny’ EVENING STANDARD

Our next book club

Please remember that anyone can join our Book Club. The next one will be held on Tuesday 5th January at 7.00. At this event we will discuss The Thursday Murder Club and select our next book.

Buying the book

  • You can buy this book from Waterstones, WHSmith or other bookshops in Cardiff
  • It can be purchased quite cheaply on Kindle (around 99p I believe)
  • You may be able to order it from the library
  • If you type the title in to Google and click the Shopping tab, you can find quite a few sellers (New and used)
  • If Amazon is out of stock, check Amazon “New” or “Used” options from other sellers through Amazon. Kindle is another option. Waterstones and Blackwells sell it as do many suppliers on eBay. Or why not check out the local library?

Can anyone join the Book Club?

Of course! To join the St Helen’s Book Club, please click this link. You can then enter your details and you will be sent joining instructions. Alternatively, you can always email Canon John on caerphilly@rcadc.org.

Preparing for Mass Online

St. Helen’s streams Mass on Saturday at 6.30 pm and Sundays at 10:30am and on other days, please refer to the Newsletter for details, dates and times.

First, please be minded that there is no obligation to watch a streamed Mass given the restrictions associated with COVID-19; however, watching and praying with us is a wonderful way to stay connected to your Catholic community here in Caerphilly and the surrounding area.

A word of caution: Attending Mass online is really hard since we are not in our usual sacred space and without all of its beautiful elements. So be patient with yourself; it is worth the effort!

How to prepare to have the best possible experience

Attire

Dress as you normally would for Mass. Try to distinguish between your normal about the house/odd job clothes as this will help identify this time as a special time.

Location

  • Prepare a special place on which to set your phone, tablet, or computer
  • Set out a crucifix or other religious imagery.
  • Light a candle or two if you have one.
  • Spread a little tablecloth on which to set your device.
  • It might be helpful to sit on something more like a dining room chair rather than dad’s recliner or the family couch.
  • Create a still and quiet environment as much as possible.

Mind and heart

  • Use a service book if you have one or an app like Magnificat or iBreviary to follow along with the readings. Or simply google “catholic mass readings.”
  • Whilst challenging, avoid distractions as best as you can just as you would do at Mass in the chapel.

Attending Mass

Switch off all radios, TVs and block incoming calls to mobile phones, maybe consider taking the landline phone “off the hook.”

  • Participate just as you would when attending Mass (stand, sit, kneel, repeat the proper responses, etc.)
  • Instead of receiving Holy Communion, make an act of spiritual communion such as this one composed by the 18th century saint, St. Alphonsus Liguori:

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

  • Once Mass is completed, spend a few moments in silence trying to recall something from the scripture readings or the homily, something you can take with you and even share with others.

Celebrating Advent as a Family

The Family Life Worker and the Family Life Commission for the Archdiocese of Cardiff have created a booklet booklet to inspire you to celebrate the full season of Advent and that this in turn brings you joy whilst creating shared memories that your family will treasure.

Advent means ‘arrival’ or ‘presence’. In the season of Advent we prepare to celebrate not only Jesus’ birth but his presence in the family, in the love we share.

We recall the past, celebrate the present, and look to the future with hope. We await the coming of the light that will shine in the darkness, shining light on our path of peace.

In prepration for Advent

In preparation for Advent

These activities could form a family fun weekend to ‘kick start’ Advent, whilst creating some shared family memories; though you can also dip in and out of these during Advent…. Whatever suits your family.

  • Making an Advent wreath
  • Making of the empty manager
  • Making an Advent paper chain
  • Preparing a Jesse tree