The God Who Speaks – Focus for May

May Focus: The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at

We have a number of exciting articles:

Dr Maria Heath from Northampton Diocese encourages us to look at Pentecost and discipleship through three words: Wait, Go and Come


Rosie McIntyre from Portsmouth Diocese shows how the Holy Spirit communicates well beyond words in our communities of people with learning disabilities

Canon Chris Thomas looks at how the Spirit was always part of Jesus’ life, and after Ascension and Pentecost, how the Spirit became the animator of the early Church –


Fleur takes us on a flight path of the dove through the Old and New Testament, exploring the significance of the dove in our Theology and Faith.


New in Our Dioceses:
Our Lady of Fátima Church in White City, London shares their discussions around racial justice in both a video and parish resource to bring about change in the Church’s life and to celebrate our rich diversity.


Schools Proverbs Challenge:
Don’t forget to get your schools sharing their wisdom with this exciting Proverbs challenge

St. Joseph in Art: The Ultimate Multi-Tasker

Fleur Dorrell takes a look at some of the less well-known texts and images that have influenced how St Joseph has been portrayed in art. For a man of biblical times, he is refreshingly modern.

Prayer to St Joseph by Pope Francis in this special year of St Joseph.

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. 

​Today, St Joseph is venerated as the patron saint of workers, pilgrims, fathers, and carpenters. Yet we know very little about him since the Bible has so few references to his character and life. This seems remarkable given his role in Jesus’ birth and early years. If Joseph is Jesus’ human father, why is he not mentioned in the gospels of Mark and John? Luke mentions him by name only in the genealogy of Jesus and once in the narrative of Jesus’ birth. Therefore, most of our ideas about Joseph come from Matthew’s Gospel, the 2nd-century Protoevangelium of James and the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine.

How Joseph and Mary came to be betrothed in the first place is described in the Proto-evangelium. An angel tells the priests to call all the widowers to come to the Temple with their rods; God will provide a sign to show which widower should be betrothed to Mary. Joseph is chosen because a dove flies out of his rod. In the Golden Legend, a flower grows out of the rod before the dove alights upon it. This symbol recalls the imagery of the flowering staff of Aaron showing he had been chosen by God in Numbers 17:23, and the Jesse rod in Isaiah 11:1-2. The episode of the rods and the marriage are painted by Giotto in his Scrovegni Chapel frescoes below.

Since the 17th century, the most enduring image of St Joseph has been as a carpenter, perhaps in some ways, influenced and associated with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and Catholic Social teaching documents on the dignity and rights of workers. So we now celebrate two feast days for Joseph:

19th March for Joseph the Husband of Mary.
1st May for Joseph the Worker.

19th March has been the most commonly celebrated feast day for St Joseph instituted by Pope Sixtus IV in 1479 but it wasn’t until 1955 that Pope Pius XII established the Feast of ‘St Joseph the Worker’ on 1st May. This is also May Day (International Workers’ Day) and believed to reflect Joseph’s status as the patron saint of workers.

What is interesting from the 17th century onwards, is that Joseph is no longer portrayed as an old man with a beard, asleep, dreaming or in the background only as guardian or protector, but is now painted as youthful, vigorous and very practical. Joseph is called a tekton in the gospels, which is usually translated from the Greek as carpenter but more likely was a general craftsman. What a wonderful father and multi-tasker.

Joseph is painted on his own, centre stage at last, combining humility and honour with highly skilled credentials that speak loudly to the modern age. Around him are a selection of tools and work in progress. Sometime the boy Jesus is with him, being shown the ropes; sometimes, Joseph is with fellow workers, but very often he is on his own, busy working in the service of God.

Here we see a series of wonderful linocuts illustrating this new interpretation of Joseph by Ade Bethune (1914 – 2002) who was an American Catholic liturgical artist. She was associated with the Catholic Worker Movement, and was a designer and iconographer.

Radio Wales


‘When Pope John Paul II came to Wales’

Radio Wales: Thu 4 Mar 2021, 6:30pm

Mai Davies reunites those who could say ‘I Was There’ at a moment in Welsh history. She asks her guests to recall the Papal visit of John Paul II in 1982.

Huge crowds gathered in Cardiff on June 2nd, 1982 to see the Pontiff become the first reigning Pope to visit Wales. Addressing 150,000 people at Pontcanna Fields, the Polish-born pontiff began the Mass in Welsh. The Pope’s message: “Bendith Duw arnoch” – “the blessing of God be on you” – was received with rapturous applause.

Three people who were there on that historic day share their memories and reflections. Broadcaster and singer-songwriter Frank Hennessy recalls how he was asked to compose and perform an official song of welcome for the Pope.

“For me it was a great day,” Frank remembers. “There was a lot of excitement running up, and relief that it went well. I can still remember every minute, every second of the day. I suppose it was the highlight of my career.”

Retired teacher Carys Whelan recalls how she was asked to give a reading at the Papal Mass: “It gave me goose pimples, I couldn’t believe they wanted me to do it,” she says. “I lost so much sleep before the big day. I went to a boutique in Bridgend to get myself a good dress. It usually did wedding dresses. They were fascinated with me as I had to get a smart dress for the Pope! I did the Welsh reading – from the Second Epistle of Peter, about coming to the mountain of God. Another time I had to read it at Mass a few years later and I couldn’t read it. I was overcome with emotion. It all came flooding back to me.”

And Canon Mike Evans – then a young Deacon – remembers how he served on the altar that day right next to the Pontiff: “I was there at the Pope’s side the whole way through. I have really happy memories of the day – the youth mass at Ninian Park was incredible.”

The God Who Speaks

“The God Who Speaks”:  A Year of the Word – Scripture Study 

‘Everyone should carry a small Bible or pocket edition of the Gospels and should find at least a few minutes every day to read the word of God.’ (Pope Francis, 2014)

With the programme of events being disrupted due to Covid 19, our planned talks in the Archdiocese of Cardiff are set to resume online this month with Fr. Tim McGrath giving a talk on “Encountering Jesus as the Messiah in Matthew’s Gospel” on Saturday, April 24th from 11am-12.30pm.


Details of the full programme of talks for the year can be found on the Archdiocesan website / events.


How to Access the Online Talks                                                                                                                    

You can access the talks on the day via Zoom at:

Meeting ID: 824 0925 6453                                                                                                                   Passcode:  633303 

The talks will also appear on YouTube.  Please go to the ACES YouTube channel

Contacts for enquiries:  Madeleine Walters at or Kate Duffin at


GOOD TO SEE:  I sent notice of our talks to The God Who Speaks Team and they have published them nationally viz.


Join in with some great Scripture events and activities from:

Portsmouth:                                                                                                            Northampton:


Happy New Year – Focus on Mary

Saint of the Month

February 1st – St. Brigid

Saint Brigid, unknown author, illumination from the manuscript “Ruskin Hours”, c. 1300, ms. Ludwig IX 3, f. 106v, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

St. Brigid was devoted to the poor and many miracles are attributed to her involving the multiplication of food such as butter. For this reason, she is often depicted in icons with a cow lying at her feet. Another miracle attributed to her involves the changing of bath water into beer.

St. Brigid founded Kildare Abbey and several other Abbeys in Ireland. Next to St. Patrick, she is Ireland’s most beloved Saint.

The miracle of food multiplication can be found in several places in the Bible. You may want to read the account of Jesus multiplying the 5 loaves and 2 fish in the Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-14) or Elijah’s prophecy that the Widow at Zarephath’s flour and oil would not run out before the end of the drought (1 Kings 17:7-16).

She is the Patron Saint of (among others): Ireland, poets and dairymaids.