Weekend message Jan 30
On Tuesday this week, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, or Candlemas. This recalls the fact that according to the law of Moses every woman who had given birth to a son should, after 40 days had elapsed (80 if the child was a girl) make an offering of a yearling lamb and a pigeon, or, in case of poverty, two young pigeons or turtle doves. When the Feast began to be celebrated (in the Church in Jerusalem) it was held on 15th February, 40 days after the Epiphany, which at that time was kept as the Feast of Our Lord’s nativity.
The Feast was not widely celebrated, it seems, until the year 542AD when the Emperor Justinian ordered that it should be observed in Constantinople and throughout the Byzantine Empire. This appears to be connected with the fact that a plague, which had caused a great number of deaths and caused havoc in the Empire, had just ceased. The Feast, in those days called ‘the Purification of Our Lady’, appears to have been instituted as a thanksgiving for deliverance from the plague.
We have suffered from a pandemic now for almost a year, and 100,000 people have died in our country alone. This is hardly comparable with the mortality associated with the plague of Justinian, which appears to have killed perhaps 50 million people. Nor can we say that the pandemic is over and the time has come for us to celebrate our thanksgiving for deliverance. However, it is appropriate for us to thank God for the great efforts that so many people have put in to cure those who are ill, care for the dying, and to recognize that so many have put themselves at risk in so doing.
We now celebrate this Feast on 2nd February, just as we now celebrate the birth of Our Lord on 25th December instead of 6th January. As we celebrate Our Lady’s ‘purification’, so we pray that God will purify us from our sins and from this sickness which has weighed so heavily on us all. “Where is the safe stronghold for the weak to find rest, if not in the wounds of the Saviour?” asks St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and he comments that “If I call to mind such a powerful and efficacious remedy (the death of Our Lord and Saviour for us), I can no longer be terrified by any disease, no matter how virulent”.
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. We are not allowed to kneel down while in Church: please stand or sit as appropriate, but please do not kneel. All who attend (except for the cleaners who remain behind to sanitize the building) should leave immediately after Mass has finished, not stopping in Church to talk to people; and please also maintain a social distance as you follow others out of Church, avoiding any ‘congregating’ in the porch, or the lobby, or at the back of Church. I am very grateful to the stewards & cleaners who 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@example.com or by phone: (0116) – 2863676
at the following times on the following days:
- between 7pm and 8pm on Monday 1st ;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Tuesday 2nd ;
- between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday 4th:
- between 7pm and 8pm on Friday 5th.
Times of Mass for next weekend:
- 10am Saturday 6th;
- 10am Sunday 7th;
- 10am Monday 8th.
At Narborough the intentions for Mass this week will be: Saturday (30th January) Mary Smith RIP; Sunday (31st January) Rosaleen Kavanagh RIP; Monday (1st February) Maureen Condon RIP. Tuesday Kate Marriott RIP; Wednesday For the people of the parishes in time of pandemic; Thursday Margaret Green RIP; Friday Anna Pullen RIP. Next weekend Saturday (6th February) Martin Johnson RIP; Sunday (7th February) Bridget Eliseou and Dolores Consadine RIP; Monday (8th February) Welfare of the Tobin & Freeman families.
Prayers for the living and the dead: please pray for Canon Giles Goward, Sean Moore, Sheila Coupland, Robert Williamson, Susan Bettle, Michelle Bradshaw, and all who have died recently.
Please also pray for Dorothy Tiffin, 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.
Ash Wednesday: Lent begins in two and a half weeks. We have been given instructions on how to distribute ashes without saying anything and without making physical contact. Just as at Mass the priest now says ‘The Body and Blood of Christ’ while still at the altar, and all answer ‘Amen’, instead of the dialogue at Holy Communion, so also on Ash Wednesday the priest will say ‘Repent and believe the Good News’ before starting to distribute the ashes in silence. We will have to discover by experience whether the distribution by sprinkling can work. I intend to celebrate Mass at St. Pius X Narborough twice for the public to attend, at 10am and probably at 7pm. Anyone wishing to attend will have to book ahead, as for the weekend, and I hope to include booking arrangements in next weekend’s message. I am very grateful to the stewards and cleaners who have indicated that they are able and willing to support the community on Ash Wednesday.
Lenten Booklets: I have been sent about 85 copies of ‘Walk With Me’ for Lent, for distribution, free of charge, to those who would like one. They will be available at St. Pius X from this weekend. If you would like a copy but will not be attending Church please let me know and I will try to deliver a copy to you.
Vaccination news: I know that a number of our parishioners have now received the first dose of this vaccine, and the intention of the Government is that many more will be vaccinated by mid-February (including myself perhaps – though as yet I haven’t been given a date). This is excellent news, but it must not allow us to lower our guard: we still must maintain social distance, and wear face coverings (and perhaps gloves), wash and sanitize our hands frequently, and generally continue to take precautions against catching and spreading this disease.
For those with mobility issues, we do have a wheelchair in the parish hall, which you may borrow if you need it in order to visit the place of vaccination. Some of you may receive the vaccination at home but for those who need to visit a vaccination centre the wheelchair is available for you to borrow if need be.
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