30 August 2020
Fr Colin Writes:
Last week I wrote about the arrangements for baptisms. This week I want to focus on First Holy Communions. I am pleased to announce that First Communions postponed from May will now take place in September and October. As we are limited in the numbers attending, rather than three groups as originally arranged for May, there will be 10 groups of children over 5 Saturdays. The First Communion Masses will be at 11am and 3pm on Saturdays 12th September to 10th October. Catechists are contacting families to inform them which time they have been allocated. Each child will be allowed 5 guests, normally parents and siblings. There will be a rehearsal the evening before, Friday at 6pm. We hope that these will be special days for the children, although there will be no hymns or singing.
Because of the extra Masses, the 10am Saturday Mass will be cancelled on these 5 Saturdays (12th September to 10th October inclusive). If an intention has already been booked for the 10am Mass the intention will be said at the 11am Mass that morning, but I am afraid that only family and guests can come to the First Communion Masses. I will be available for confessions at 10.30, but please be aware that this will not extend right through to 11.00, as I will need to get ready for the First Communion Mass. The Saturday Evening Mass at 6.30pm will take place as usual with confessions from 5.45 to 6.15pm, by Our Lady’s Grotto.
Thank you very much for abiding by these new arrangements.
Arrangements for Baptism
For the time being, weekend baptisms will take place at 1.pm on Saturdays or at 3pm on Sundays. Restrictions on numbers prevent us from having baptisms during Mass. If you prefer, baptisms can take place on a weekday.
There will be a preparation session for parents who wish to have their baby baptised on Sunday 4 October at 4pm. This will take place in the church, not in the Dominic Room as before. Application forms can be collected from the Sacristy.
Use of the Parish Centre
For the time being, we are not in a position to re-open the Parish Centre for meetings, parties, catechism, lunch club or toddlers. We will review the situation as time goes on.
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace”.
22nd Sunday of Year A
St Teresa of Avila once said “ No wonder you have so few friends, Lord: you treat them all so badly.” Often those who strive generously to serve God seem to get more than their fair share of suffering and hardship.
Take Jeremiah. He never wanted to be a prophet, but found there was no way of evading the divine call. To use his own bold, even shocking, language: God seduced him, over powered him, deceived him, He finds himself addressing people who won’t listen to him, who ridicule him, even punish him in the stocks. No wonder he is tempted to say; “I’ll just not think about God any more”. But he can’t do it, because as he explains. “ There seems to be fire burning in my heart”; it was the fire for his love for God and it made the prophet carry on his apparently hopeless task.
It isn’t only God’s friends who have to suffer, but even God’s own Son. In the Gospel we see Jesus revealing to the disciples the anguish he feels as he sets out for Jerusalem, knowing that opposition, rejection and an appalling death await him there. Peter is shocked and cries out: “Heaven preserve you Lord, this must not happen to you”. Jesus’s response was harsh ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path’. The one Jesus had called Rock is now being referred to as Satan. From this, we can see how Jesus was tempted (by the devil) to back out of all the suffering, hardship and death which awaited him. Peter wasn’t making it any easier. But Jesus uses this occasion to explain that we all need to take up our crosses to be true followers of Christ. We think of so many who have been and still are carrying crosses as a result of COVID19—the sick, the bereaved, the doctors, nurses, care staff, the unemployed, the poor—one could go on. However, we can allow these crosses to be a means to our salvation, just as Jesus carried his cross to save us.
The ways of God are not the ways of the world. In a world of poverty, inequality, deceit and oppression, disciples of the kingdom cannot be comfortable. In today’s 2nd reading, St Paul offers us an insight into living with this tension. He says ‘do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour be modelled by your new mind: That ‘new mind’ flows from the Gospel, It is what Jesus teaches . The more we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, the more we will be ready to take up the challenges presented to us.
My Day By Day
I have just heard that the little booklet ‘My Day By Day’ will be resuming production, starting with the October edition. I know that many of you find them helpful as they give the daily Mass readings. Copies will be available later in September.
According to Thy Word
The 6-week Prayer/Discussion booklets will be available in the autumn. The booklets this time are entitled ‘According to Thy Word’.
This week’s Saint
Thursday 3rd September—St Gregory the Great
Pope Saint Gregory I, also known as the Great, was the Pope of the Catholic Church between 590 and 604 AD.
Gregory was born around 540 in Rome. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Although the Western Roman Empire had collapsed long before his birth, many ancient Roman families still commanded great wealth and influence in the city. Gregory was born into one such family. His great-great-grandfather was Pope Felix III who reigned from 483 to 492. (Astute readers may suspect this to be a scandal, but this was at a time before the clergy took vows of celibacy.)
His father was named Gordianus, and he was a senator and a Prefect of Rome. Gordianus also held a position in the Church with the title of Regionarius, but there are no records from the time which describe the post. Gregory's mother was Silvia, also from a noble family. Silvia's sister (Gregory's aunt), Pateria are both recognized as saints in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Gregory had a brother, but nothing is recorded, neither his name or his fate.
Gregory's family was very wealthy and owned estates on the island of Sicily which provided income.
When Gregory was just two years old in 542, the Plague of Justinian swept through the region. This plague was caused by a now-extinct strain of Yersinia Pestis, more commonly known as the Black Death. The plague was the most severe outbreak of deadly disease the world had ever known and remained the worst such incident until the Black Death in the 14th century. About a third of the population in Italy was wiped out by the disease.
Gregory was well educated and excelled in all his studies. He also became an expert in law. He excelled so much he became the Prefect of Rome, just as his father had been. Gregory was only 33 years old.
After Gregory's father had died, Gregory had the family villa in Rome converted into a monastery. Today the monastery still stands as the San Gregorio Magno al Celio. This famous monastery fell into ruin in the following centuries but was restored during the 17th and 18th centuries.
As a monk, Gregory was hard and strict. When a monk on his deathbed confessed to stealing three pieces of gold, Gregory ordered he be left to die alone. After the poor monk had died, Gregory ordered his body thrown on a dung heap along with the three coins. Then, in a turn of heart, Gregory offered 30 Masses for the deceased monk.
Pope Gregory made many changes to the Mass, some of which remain today, The position of the Our Father in the Mass remains where Pope Gregory placed it.
He emphasized the aspect of service to the poor for deacons. The number of deacons was increasing in number and they were seen as less essential as extensions of the Bishop than they were in the early Church. Deacons were often tasked with giving alms to the poor, and at least one was assigned to each church and ordained for this purpose.