This week we have an important Feastday and an important anniversary. Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, when we recall that Our Lord, Risen from the dead, was taken from the sight of the disciples ‘not to abandon us, but to be our hope’. This is a Feastday for us to remember Our Lord’s promise to his disciples – ‘I am with you, to the end of time’. The challenge to us who believe in Him is not merely to know that he is with us, but also to know that we are here to do his work, so that others will see him in us and in our love and care for one another.
My favourite image for the Ascension of Our Lord is Lewis Carroll’s idea of the Cheshire Cat, which grinned at Alice, and appeared and vanished in Alice’s sight; when she asked him not to disappear so abruptly, he vanished slowly, eventually leaving just the grin behind. Our Lord has left his smile behind – but we are to be that smile; we are to be the body of Christ, doing his work gladly in the world, so that all may be happier and more blessed.
People have been suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic is God’s punishment on us for being sinners, and I was delighted to read last week that Bishop Leahy of Limerick has reacted sharply against such a view, which he called a form of blasphemy. But, the Bishop says, God is trying to teach us something, how to draw good out of evil situations – and that is for all of us to do, as followers of Our Lord, doing his work of caring for, helping, loving our brothers and sisters. Wherever people are going out of their way to help others, look after them, care for them, love them – there we have the love of God.
A practical way that we might be able to help others, if we have a bicycle that is no longer being used but is in good repair, or at least reparable, would be to make it available to those who wish to cycle to work but do not have the machinery. There has been a great increase in the numbers of people cycling, and Community Cycles, which is supported by Leicester City Council, will refurbish bicycles for critical workers. Provided the chain or bearings are not rusted, the bicycle can usually be put back on the road. If you have such a bicycle and are willing to donate it, please let me know, and I will pass on the information to Dr. Tully, who can arrange collection from the Narborough – Whetstone area, or from Leicester itself.
Monday is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope John Paul II. Within a year of Pope John Paul visiting Poland, in 1979, the ‘solidarity’ movement, which had such a momentous effect on Poland and probably for many other countries as well, began. ‘Solidarity’ is an idea which has much to comment it for every people and at every time, but perhaps we have started to notice its importance in dealing with the pandemic and its multiple effects. We cannot deal with the disaster as individuals, but together, in solidarity, we can and will be the instruments by which the Holy Spirit will turn all things to good for those who love God.
I am very grateful to all of you who have been distributing my thoughts and messages to those who may not have been receiving them directly – and I do ask you all please to keep up the good work. My thoughts (such as they are) are not restricted to parishioners, so please do share them with anyone else who you feel may benefit from them or would like to read them. Please also continue to pass on to me any messages from them – including email addresses. I have already been able to add a number of email addresses to my list, and I would very much like to reach as many members of our communities as possible.
Thank you again to all who have sent in ideas for how we might celebrate when we can meet together again. It seems that Churches will not be allowed to open even for private prayer for some time, and even then only under strict conditions. Meanwhile, it is most important that we continue to pray together, even though we cannot meet physically. I know many of you access celebrations of Mass which are available via the internet, and I celebrate Mass each day, and have you all in mind as I do so. At the Rosmini House (on the A46 just north of Syston) Fr. Denys Labourette will celebrate a Mass of Healing with the Rosary every Wednesday at 11am until the end of August.
This week I will celebrate Mass at approximately 9am each day (8.30am on Thursday and Saturday) for the following intentions:
Sunday Joyce King RIP; Monday for the people of the parish (Mass in time of pandemic); Tuesday Denis Crimmins RIP; Wednesday Intentions of Mary Smith; Thursday Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord: the people of the Parishes; Friday Henry & Audrey Spencer RIP; Saturday Welfare & Intentions of Joan Lamyman; next Sunday Frances Sullivan RIP. If anyone would like me to send again the prayers for the Mass ‘in time of pandemic’, please let me know.
Please pray for Joan Lamyman, Mary Dunne, Ranjit Mann, Juanita Zaman, Ian Cahill, and Francis and Sally Watters (all parishioners or relatives of parishioners) who are seriously ill; and for Denis Crimmins, Veronica Simpson, Pauline Grummett, Peter Gibbon, Joyce King, Jessica Lowndes, Anne Murray, Maureen Condon, and Assumpta Cummins, and all who have died recently. Please let me know of any others who have died, or anyone who is ill and wishes to ask for prayers, so that I can add them to the list.
Meanwhile, please know that I am thinking of you all and looking forward to meeting you again in person. I pray for you, and ask that you pray for me and for all members of our two communities. I hope you are all keeping well, happy, and virus free. If there is any way that I can help, please do let me know.
If anyone would like me to send them the prayers of the Mass in time of pandemic, or ‘Mary’s Prayer with the Pope’, please let me know.