13 September 2020
Fr Colin Writes:
One of the positive elements of the changes at Mass is the dignified and unhurried way that people come forward to receive Holy Communion, keeping a safe distance from each other. Thank you for following these new guidelines. Although the other parts of the Mass are shorter than before with no singing, no homily, no Bidding Prayers, no Offertory Procession and no Sign of Peace, Communion time takes a little longer. The advantage of this is that you have more time to pray and reflect in silence when you return to your place after receiving Holy Communion. These are special moments, enabling us to appreciate the moment when we receive Our Lord, receiving His guidance for all we do.
Yesterday (Saturday) we had our fist set of Holy Communion Masses, postponed from May. They take place at 11AM and 3PM on Saturdays until the 10th October. Unfortunately because of number restrictions, we cannot invite you to these Masses unless you are part of the family of the child in question. Each week the children concerned will have a rehearsal the day before, Friday at 6PM.
Some families are asking about next year’s First Communion. At the moment we don’t know how it will work, whether we can have classes or other means of preparing the children. The thinking at the moment is that we will have application forms available in November to return by Christmas and to start the preparation in the New Year. This applies to children who have now started in Year 3 or above.
We still have over 60 boxes of envelopes which have not been collected. Because of lockdown, many have not been using envelopes, if you would like to receive your box of envelopes please ask Father Colin. Unfortunately we cannot leave them in the church because of Data Protection rules.
There will be a session for parents who wish to have their baby baptised at 4PM on Sunday 4th October in the church.
Parish Council Meeting
There will be a meeting of the Parish Council at 7.45PM on Thursday 17th September in the church.
24th Sunday of Year A
The message from today’s extract from the book of Ecclesiasticus is quite stark:
· Resentment, anger and vengeance are acts of the sinner.
· The Lord keeps strict account of sin
· Forgive your neighbour
· When you pray, your sins will be forgiven
· Remember the last things
· Remember the commandments and keep to the covenant.
The Book of Ecclesiasticus, sometimes known as the Book of Sirach is part of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament and was written by Ben Sira to demonstrate to his fellow Jews and to well-meaning pagans that true wisdom resides in Israel. When we look at the points made in the Book of Ecclesiasticus, including those in today’s passage, we see that so much of it makes up the basis of Christian teaching. This includes the message of the parable in today’s Gospel based on the petition in the Lord’s prayer—Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us as.
When Peter initially suggests that he might be called to forgive seven times, he is being very generous. But this is not generous enough because Jesus retorts that he should forgive seventy-seven times. Not only is this a considerable number, but seven is seen to be the perfect number. In other words, Jesus is saying that forgiving one another is the road to perfection. Of course, it is not an easy thing to do especially if the offender has hurt us or somebody we know and love in a severe way.
The key phrase in today’s Gospel is `he had no means of paying`. The debt that the servant had accrued is astronomical—something like the national debt - he doesn’t just give him more time or let him pay a bit of it—he cancels it; the debt is wiped out. When we come before God with our debts, we are totally unable to pay them. There is literally nothing that we can do to put ourselves at rights with God. All our good works and prayers and penitence are themselves the fruit of the grace given to us. When we think about this we realise how powerful and complete is the Sacrament of Confession. We can marvel at the extent to which Jesus went to make this possible; to suffer pain, humiliation, rejection and death so that our sins might be forgiven. Our debt has been cancelled. But can we cancel the small debts that others owe us? Can we forgive them their trespasses? Well, the servant in the Gospel whose large debt was cancelled refused to cancel the small debt that his fellow servant owed him. For not doing that he suffered the consequences.
Our kindness, our generosity, our forgiving can have an influence on others. As St Paul says in today’s extract from his letter to the Romans- `the life and death of each of us has its influence on others: Forgiving one another is a way of passing on love. Love is catching, so forgiving can be catching.
Saints of the Week
Monday 14th– Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross originated in the Church in Jerusalem. From the middle of the fourth century it was celebrated on 13 September, the anniversary of the dedication of the basilica erected on Golgotha under Constantine. According to the account written by a fourth-century pilgrim named Egeria, a relic of our Lord’s Cross had been found on that date a few years earlier. The “exaltation” or “raising up” of the Cross took place on the second day of the octave of the dedication; on that day, according to a liturgical book of the time, the venerable Cross is solemnly shown to all the Christian people. At the present time the most characteristic rite of this feast in the Byzantine liturgy is the priest raising the Cross above all the people’s heads, blessing them and turning to the four points of the compass, while the choir intones the Kyrie Eleison a hundred times at each point. Afterwards the faithful come forward to venerate the Cross and to receive one of the flowers decorating the place where the Cross has lain.
Tuesday 15th Our Lady of Sorrows
This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of "Our Lady of Compassion." Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15. The title "Our Lady of Sorrows" focuses on Mary's intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. "The Seven Dolors," the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th.This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.
Wednesday 16th St Cornelius and St Cyprian
Pope Cornelius was the bishop of Rome from 6 or 13 March 251 to his martyrdom in June 253. He was pope during and following a period of persecution of the church and a schism occurred over how repentant church members who had practiced pagan sacrifices to protect themselves could be readmitted to the church. Cornelius agreed with Cyprian of Carthage that those who had lapsed could be restored to communion after varying forms of penance
Saint Cyprian’s writings are of great importance, especially his treatise on The Unity of the Catholic Church, in which he argues that unity is grounded in the authority of the bishop, and among the bishops, in the primacy of the See of Rome.
In, "The Unity of the Catholic Church," St. Cyprian writes, "You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.... God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one is the faith, and one is the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body.... If we are the heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the sons of God, let us be lovers of peace."
During the Decian persecutions Cyprian considered it wiser to go into hiding and guide his flock covertly rather than seek the glorious crown of martyrdom, a decision that his enemies attacked him for.
On September 14, 258, however, he was martyred during the persecutions of the emperor Valerian.