On Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the great Feast of the Holy Spirit. We are always in need of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Without the wisdom, the understanding, the courage, the strength, the awe and wonder in the presence of God and his mighty works, how could we cope with the current crisis of health, how could we look forward with any confidence to the future, how could we even find the compassion to love and care for our brothers and sisters?
They gave Jesus the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and he read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.” Then our Lord said to them “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”. (Luke 4: 17-21)
In these days when we cannot meet together, cannot even pray quietly in Church by ourselves, it is important for us to know that we are still led by the Holy Spirit of God. St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in the 2nd century, said that “Wherever there is the Holy Spirit, there is the Church, and wherever there is the Church, there is the Holy Spirit and every grace.” Although the Church building is closed, we are still the People of God, the Church, and the Holy Spirit is with us, and every grace. Perhaps we find that difficult to believe – if so, it is the more important that we do make an act of faith: yes, the Holy Spirit is with us; yes, Our Lord is with us in the power of the Holy Spirit, yes we are still God’s People.
When we find it hard to believe, we would do well to listen to the encouraging words of St. Paul. “The Holy Spirit comes to help us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words; and God, who searches the hearts of men and women, knows what the mind of the Spirit is, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8: 26-7)
So we pray that the Holy Spirit will give courage and strength and compassion to the vast numbers of health care workers and their supporters, and for those who are in so many ways caring for their fellow men and women in these difficult times. We also pray that the Holy Spirit will give wisdom, understanding, and courage to the Government and to the Bishops of England and Wales, that good decisions be taken at the right time for the benefit of all the people.
As I wrote last week, the Bishops of England and Wales have submitted to the Government a detailed plan, following medical advice, for Churches to reopen for private prayer as a first step towards their use for public worship. We still await the detailed instructions which will be given when the current provisions are relaxed sufficiently to allow private prayer in some Churches.
The Bishops think that to start with only a few Churches will be able to open at all, and advice will be given regarding the need for social distancing and hygienic cleaning of all surfaces which may be touched by visitors. Public worship will not be allowed for some further time, and we do not know what sorts of restrictions will be put on Churches then.
There have been suggestions that we could hold Mass outside, which I would be happy to do, but it would rather require good weather. We have been fortunate in that respect for weeks now; but when we are able to celebrate Mass with a congregation in the open air, I think the chances are that the rains will have returned! Until further notice there can be no services in Church, and that this means no weddings, no baptisms, and no Church funerals.
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) for the following intentions:
Sunday (Feast of Pentecost) Sean O’Neill RIP; Monday Intetnions of Mrs Nealon; Tuesday for the people of the parish (Mass in time of pandemic); Wednesday Anne Foong RIP; Thursday Canon Colin Taylor RIP); Friday Henri Dulon RIP; Saturday Dorothy Gabrin RIP; next Sunday (Trinity Sunday) for the people of the parishes.
Please pray for Elizabeth Fullerton, Joan Lamyman, Mary Dunne, Ranjit Mann, Juanita Zaman, (all parishioners or relatives of parishioners) and Father Michael Horrax (retired priest of this Diocese) who are seriously ill; and for Anne Foong, Michael Ginnerty, Agnes Hanford, Father Richgard Adam (of Mount St. Bernard’s Abbey), Sean O’Neill, Bishop Vincent Malone, Brian Peverdy, Winifred Foot, 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.
The Diocese of Nottingham wishes to appoint a Director of Communications for the Diocese, to work with the Bishop, parishes, chaplaincies, and schools to lead the development and implementation of an effective communications framework across the diocese, promoting the Diocesan Mission and the three themes of Encounter with Christ, Discipleship, and Missionary Discipleship. The post would suit a committed Catholic with a strong track record in communications, and experienced media professional or journalist who has been involved recently in leading communications. Salary £45-50K. For more information and application pack please email [email protected]. Closing date 22nd June 2020.
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. Do please think of those members of our community who may not be ‘computer-savvy’ or do not have email, or perhaps may not have given me their email address. I hope that as many people as possible can be brought together into our ‘virtual community’. You are welcome to share these thoughts 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.
With best wishes to you all, and assuring you all of my prayers. Father John