Weekend message Jan 16
As I write these reflections, we are still all under ‘Tier 4’ restrictions. These require that we do not leave our homes except for a small set of reasons (which are called ‘reasonable excuses’):
- shop for basic necessities, for you or for a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person; this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare – for those eligible
Further advice (in the ‘small print’) allows you also to leave home to take your pet to the vet, to go to a place of worship for communal worship, and to attend ‘life events’, which includes weddings, funerals, and visits to a graveside, but under strict conditions in regard to numbers of people who can attend, and with the proviso that you cannot ‘mingle’ with others. The ‘small print’ then adds that there might be more ‘reasonable excuses’, such as moving house.
There are suggestions that we might be moving to Tier 5, which would close all places of communal worship, among other restrictions. Could there even be a tier 6? A retired priest has sent me a message suggesting that under tier 7 we would not be allowed even to look out of the window.
Such suggestions aside, we all know the importance of being sensible and vigilant, and doing all we can to avoid catching the disease or being the conduit to pass it on to others. There are many people, such as the front line medical professionals, who have to risk catching the disease in order to care for others; but most of us do not need to run that risk, and as John le Carré suggested in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, being alive (and healthy) requires eternal watchfulness.
Each one of us bears a responsibility to decide for ourselves what we should or should not do, and that includes whether or not we should attend Church. We should not do so if we feel that we would put ourselves or others at risk. Reflecting on the circumstances in consultation with others, I have decided that the Church of Our Lady of Victories & St. Alphonsus in Lutterworth will be closed for public worship and private prayer until further notice. We cannot remain open and assure those attending, and particularly the generous volunteers who have acted as stewards and cleaners, that we can keep them safe from the spread of the virus.
For the time being, however, the Church of St. Pius X in Narborough will remain open for Mass at 10am on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The Church is larger, and without pillars, intruding walls, or side chapels, and with windows which can be opened to allow circulation of fresh air, is much easier to keep safe and to clean and sanitize. I am very grateful to our generous helpers who have signified that they are willing to continue for the time being. However, this decision will be kept under review, and if it seems that safety is compromised, the Church of St. Pius X will also close.
How can we follow Our Lord and his teaching when we are not able to attend Church for Sunday Mass? That is a very reasonable question, particularly when we read this description of the early community of believers: they were faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers (Acts 2:42). Being unable to attend Sunday Mass prevents us from access both to the fellowship of believers and to the breaking of bread.
But we can still remain faithful to the teaching of the apostles and to the prayers, which we can (and should) say regularly in our own homes; and many people have found ways of accessing the celebration of Mass on social media.
St. John reminds us that to be followers of Christ we need, above all else, to do two things: to believe, firmly, that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be born among us as a man, Jesus Christ, to live among us, die for us, and rise again; and that we then respond to this great love that God has shown us by loving our neighbours. For God is love; and we cannot really claim that we love God, who we cannot see, if we do not love our fellow men and women who we can see. (1 John 4: 16, 20)
One of the ways in which we show our love for our fellow men and women at this time is by doing our best to keep safe, to obey the regulations, and avoid, in every way possible, passing on this virus to anyone else. It does seem very strange that, at present, a corporal work of mercy will be not visiting people! But for the present I think that is the case.
Arrangements for attending Church for Mass: are the same as before the recent lockdown began. Masks or face coverings will be required for those attending Mass (except for those exempted from wearing them); it is necessary for those attending Church to sanitize their hands on entering; and all need to keep social distance from each other (unless they are members of the same household or family). Young persons under the age of sixteen years, and all persons who suffer from physical or mental disability, must be accompanied at all times by a responsible adult. Please remember that we are not allowed to kneel down while in Church: please stand or sit as appropriate, but please do not kneel. Please also remember that we should leave immediately after Mass has finished, not stopping in Church to talk to people; but please also maintain a social distance as you follow others out of Church – please avoid any ‘congregating’ in the porch, or the lobby, or at the back of Church.
The Church must be sanitized after every public celebration of Mass, and stewards must also be on duty for those celebrations. I am very grateful to the stewards & cleaners who have offered to be available to support the public celebration of Mass.
Please remember that it will be essential to book a place at Mass on every occasion that you wish to attend. It is not permitted to book for every Sunday, or even for a number of weeks. Please also remember to bring a mask to wear when coming to Mass.
Booking Arrangements for next weekend:
At St. Pius X, Narborough:
You may book by email: [email protected] or by phone: (0116) – 2863676
at the following times on the following days:
- between 7pm and 8pm on Monday 18th;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Tuesday 19th;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday 21st;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Friday 22nd.
Times of Mass for next weekend:
- 10am Saturday 23rd;
- 10am Sunday 24th:
- 10am Monday 25th.
A Special Collection will be taken next weekend (24th January) for the Sick and Retired Priests’ Fund.
At Narborough the intentions for Mass this week will be: Saturday (16th January) Mary & John Smith RIP; Sunday (17th January) Deceased members of the O’Connor & Thacker families; Monday (18th January) Terry Barber RIP. Tuesday Intentions of Eve Zankar; Wednesday Edward, Harry, and Phyllis Bright; Thursday Father John Miller RIP; Friday For the people of the parishes in time of pandemic. Next weekend Saturday (23rd January) Jim & Sylvia Simpkin RIP; Sunday (24th January) Deceased friends & relations of M and C Newton; Monday (25th January) Linda Burton RIP.
Prayers for the living and the dead: please pray for Susan Bettle, Michelle Bradshaw, Linda Burton, Sister Ursula O’Keefe, Michael Garvey, Peggy Ward, Nicholas Coote, and all who have died recently.
Please also pray for Canon Owen O’Neill, Robert Williamson, Freda Williams, Susan Moore, Andrew Madden, Joseph Armeni, Dave Knapper, Teresa Maugham, Debbie Bourke, Elizabeth Fullerton, Mary Dunne, Ranjit Mann, and Juanita Zaman who are seriously ill.
Please let me know of any others who have died, or anyone who is ill and asks for prayers.
First Confession and Holy Communion: Candidates must be in Year 3 at school (or above). Confirmation: Candidates must be in secondary school (or later). Please let me know as soon as possible, and certainly before the start of December, of any candidates for these sacraments. So far I have received four applications for First Confession and Holy Communion, and five applications for Confirmation. I have obtained the books for use in these preparations; we will see how we may be able to start preparation for these sacraments in the New Year. Obviously no face to face preparation can possibly begin until March at the earliest.
Reminders from previous weeks:
Recycling Textiles: At the moment the firm are no longer collecting in the Leicester area and has no plans to restart collections here. If anyone knows of any other organization willing to collect clothes and other textiles in our area, please let me know.
The corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry (and thirsty), clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, give shelter to the homeless, bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish the sinner, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear wrongs patiently, and pray for the living and for the dead.
MARRIAGE CARE: Our marriage preparation and support service enable couples to nurture faithful and fruitful marriages that last, as we draw on Catholic teaching and contemporary research to help couples focus on the quality of their relationship with each other.
Our latest resource, Preparing Together Anywhere, is facilitated by two trained volunteers via webcam. Groups of up to 7 engaged couples attend three 90-minute sessions over a period of 3 weeks, with additional resources to enable couples to reflect more deeply in between sessions on the commitment being entered into. Wedding plans may be on hold for some time, but couples need not put their preparation for marriage on hold.
Through our relationship counselling service (now available via webcam), we accompany, with compassion and practical wisdom, couples who find themselves in need of support on their journey. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, we know that increases in family stress and impending threat of relationship breakdown will plunge many more into financial difficulties. We are unique in asking couples who come to us for counselling only to pay what they can afford, reflecting our commitment to support those most in need. Please encourage couples to connect with us today at: www.marriagecare.org.uk.
Standing Orders: I will provide the parish Bank details to anyone who would like to donate by Standing Order or similar electronic means – many of you already do so (and I am very grateful indeed). I can provide standing order mandates for anyone who wishes – please just ask.
Gift Aid: I have copies of the form to complete, so if you are a taxpayer and would like the tax paid on your contributions to be given to the parish, please ask me for a form.
With best wishes to you all, and assuring you all of my prayers, Father John