weekend message Jan 23
This is the traditional week of prayer for Christian Unity, when we reflect once again on the prayer of Our Lord that all his followers would be one, as he and his heavenly Father are one (John 17: 20ff); and we listen once again to St. Paul telling us that In Christ there is no division between one nationality and another, between one class of people and another, between male and female – all are the same for God, and all are one in Christ. For, he tells us, “there is one body and one Spirit, just as we were all called into one hope that belongs to the call we have received, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
This year, as we pray for unity among Christians, we remember that God is Father of all people, not just Christians, and that Our Lord is the Good Shepherd of all the sheep in all the flocks (John 10:16), not just those who recognize him as Lord and Shepherd. As the coronavirus affects everybody, so also everybody has a responsibility, not only for ourselves but for the sake of all our brothers and sisters among whom we live.
So this year our prayer, on this Sunday of special prayer for Unity among Christians, is that God will enable all Christians to come together in mind and heart, and enable us to be a beacon of hope to a world which needs hope so much. The news of the vaccination programme is good – I have not yet been given a date, but my age group have been told to expect one by the middle of February – but salvation and the fulfilment of our hopes and dreams does not come from vaccines but from the God who provides scientists and other professionals with the requisite skills and encourages them to greater feats of invention.
There have been further suggestions (but so far no requirement) that Churches close again. This is understandable: we all know we must make sacrifices for the benefit of others. The greatest love we can show, Our Lord says, is to lay down our lives for our friends – and he tells us that we are his friends if we do as he commands us, and his command was to love one another, as he loves us. (John 15: 12ff) If closing our Churches again is the best way for us to show our love for our brothers and sisters, then there is no doubt that we should do so.
I am not sure that we have yet reached that point. I hardly go outside the house or garden: only to the supermarket to shop for food and other essentials once a week, and occasionally to the Post Office to post documents to overseas Chanceries (I am Chancellor of the Diocese, so that is part of my work). Because of the precautions which are in place at St. Pius X Narborough, and the careful way that our band of stewards and cleaners ensure that good practice is assiduously maintained, I am confident that I would be much more likely to catch the dreaded virus at the supermarket than in Church.
As I mentioned in my message last week, 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. For such reasons, the Church of Our Lady of Victories & St. Alphonsus in Lutterworth will be closed for public worship and private prayer until further notice. 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. 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.
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 25th;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Tuesday 26th;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday 28th:
- between 7pm and 8pm on Friday 29th.
Times of Mass for next weekend:
- 10am Saturday 30th;
- 10am Sunday 31st;
- 10am Monday 1st February.
A Special Collection will be taken this weekend (24th January) for the Sick and Retired Priests’ Fund.
At Narborough the intentions for Mass this week will be: Saturday (23rd January) Jim & Sylvia Simpkin RIP; Sunday (24th January) Deceased friends & relations of M and C Newton; Monday (25th January) Linda Burton RIP. Tuesday for the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit for Mr J Biden; Wednesday David Smith RIP; Thursday John and Freda Pyle RIP; Friday For the people of the parishes in time of pandemic. Next weekend Saturday (30th January) Mary Smith RIP; Sunday (31st January) Rosaleen Kavanagh RIP; Monday (1st February) Maureen Condon RIP.
Prayers for the living and the dead: please pray for Robert Williamson, 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 Father Giles Goward (Rector of Oscott College), Canon Owen O’Neill, Tom McDermott, 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.
Reminders from previous weeks:
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.
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