23 August 2020
Fr Colin Writes:
During August I have been catching up with the baptisms that have had to be postponed since March. Families who wish to have their baby baptised normally attend a preparation session on a Sunday afternoon. As our normal meeting place is in a confined space, future sessions will be held in the church. If you wish to have your baby baptised, please get in touch with me and we will arrange a preparation session. Dates for the actual baptism will be arranged at the preparation session.
At a baptism ceremony, the Government guidance is that no more that 30 people can attend. This also applies to other ‘life—cycle ceremonies’ like weddings and funerals. We are required to wear face masks unless you are a child or baby. The steward will guide you to a place to sit after sanitising your hands and taking a leaflet. Families and bubbles only can sit together. The leaflet should be taken home afterwards. The Bishops of England and Wales have produced the following guidelines for baptism ceremonies:
Only parents should sign the child with the sign of the cross.
One short reading should be used.A cotton bud should be used for the anointing with the oil of catechumens and the Sacred Chrism.
The font should be pre—filled with water.
The cover should be taken off only for the baptism itself.
The parents should bring a white garment for the child, and take away afterwards.
A parent or Godparent should light the baptism candle from the Paschal Candle.
The Ephphetha Rite, in which the priest touches the mouth and ears of the child should be omitted.
Social distancing still applies when taking photographs afterwards. Plans are being prepared for the First Communion ceremonies which will begin in September in small groups.
I would like to thank the stewards who make these baptisms possible and indeed Masses throughout the week. If you would like to offer your services as a steward who need to be in good health and under 70, please speak to me.
Aid to Beirut
I have received a letter from the Superior of Our Lady of Lebanon following the devastating explosion in Beirut, pleading for help. The Lebanese Maronite Order has opened the doors to its monasteries and schools to house many nationals who have lost their homes. The donations will aid the valuable residents in restoring the homes they have lost to this disaster, as well as providing medical supplies and food distribution.
Account name: The Lebanese Maronite Order Charitable Trust
Bank of Beirut UK Ltd; 66 Cannon Street, London EC4N 6AE
Sort code: 60 83 75 Account No: 12023802 Purpose: Aid to Beirut.
21st Sunday Year A
The Gospel account today presents the occasion when Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. It was the greatest responsibility that Jesus had given to anyone. His credentials were not perfect. The Gospels highlight many of the weaknesses of Peter as well as his strengths. It was such an important responsibility that Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter, which means Rock. He was the Rock, the solid substance on which the Church would be built. Jesus gave the responsibility of binding and loosing, which meant that decisions relating to who and who does not belong to the church would be his. The main point that this Gospel passage is making is that before Simon Peter was given this responsibility, he made a sincere profession of faith. This was when Jesus asked him ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter answered—’You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. This profession of faith was like an entry into something phenomenal, an entry into being leader of the Church on earth. We make a profession of faith each Sunday when we say together the Nicene Creed. It is a renewal of our commitment to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But most significantly we make a profession of faith before receiving the Sacraments, At baptism it is the parents and godparents who make their profession of faith on behalf of the child. At the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Bishop questions the candidates who reply ‘I do’ to each of the questions of faith. At Easter time we renew our baptismal promises and then are sprinkled with Holy Water. These should be life—changing moments in our relationship with God.
The responsibility and the high expectation of somebody given a task by God is evident in the 1st reading from the prophet Jeremiah. Shebna, who held the position of first minister of the king was dismissed from ;his office because he had used his position for his own aggrandisement. To replace him, the Lord appoints Eliakim, to bring Justice to the kingdom. He is invested with a special robe and sash. Like Peter he is given a symbolic key. The Lord has entrusted to him the care of the inhabitants of
Jerusalem . Being given high office means serving God and his people, not advancing one’s own cause.
God often calls a most unlikely person to a particular role— unlikely in the eyes of the people. But God know best and can transform somebody into a good copy of himself. So it is that the wisdom of God and the depths of his knowledge are mentioned in today’s extract from the letter to the Romans. ‘How deep his wisdom and knowledge—and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods!’
This week’s Saints
Monday –24th St Bartholomew,
1st. century, one of the 12.All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a patronymic, means "son of Tolomai" and scholars believe he is the same as Nathanael mentioned in John, who says he is from Cana and that Jesus called him an "Israelite...incapable of deceit." The Roman Martyrology says he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded by King Astyages. Tradition has the place as Abanopolis on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and that he also preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. Saint Bartholomew is the Patron Saint of: Plasterers.
Thursday-27th St Monica 330 –387
The circumstances of Saint Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law, and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity, and her son Augustine from sinner to saint. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. Saint Monica is the Patron Saint of: Alcoholics, Conversion, Married Women & Mothers.
Friday-28th St Augustine
A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience.
There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures, redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent: politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. Saint Augustine is the Patron Saint of: Printers & Theologians.
Saturday-29th The Passion O St John the Baptist
This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honour of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation, repentance, and salvation.