Takehomenews 14 February
Fr Colin writes:
On Wednesday we start the Season of Lent, a grand opportunity for us to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins and to make positive steps towards becoming more like Christ. Lent will seem somewhat different this year with the restrictions imposed by COVID but it need not be a less spiritually uplifting time. Cardinal Nichols has written a Pastoral Letter which will be read our at Masses today; copies will be available in the church and on the website. The Cardinal speaks about ways which we can approach Lent and in particular, Ash Wednesday. On the back page of this newsletter you will find his practical formula for remembering Ash Wednesday at home. If you are able to come to Mass on Ash Wednesday, the liturgy will be a little different from usual. (Masses will be at 9am and 7.30pm). Obviously, we cannot impose ashes on your forehead as before, so when you leave church the priest will sprinkle some ash on you head. This will take place outside the church. Please observe social distancing as you do when coming up to Communion. The stewards will guide you.
During Lent we are putting on two services each week which will be livestreamed only. The church will not be open. On Fridays starting 19th February at 7pm we will have Stations of the Cross. On Tuesdays starting 23rd February between 7pm and 8pm there will be Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
We realise that there may be some people at home who do not have the facility to livestream or do not know how to go about it. If you need help in any way, please contact us at the presbytery and we will see what we can do for you.
To help us in our Lenten observance, there are items available in the porch. ‘My Day By Day’ gives the daily Mass readings. ‘Walk with Me’ gives meditation throughout Lent and there are some Lenten calendars for children.
Cardinal’s Lenten Appeal 2021
Cardinal Nichols thanks you for your generous support for the Cardinal’s Lenten Appeal, especially throughout the unprecedented events of 2020. Your donations help fund initiatives in parishes, schools and charities in three mission areas which are more critical than ever. Marriage and Family Life: enriching and supporting marriages, the essential building block of society and the Church. Youth and Evangelisation: helping young people, the future of the Church, as they grow in their relationship with God and deepen their Catholic faith. Caritas Westminster: putting our faith into action by serving those in need. Education Service: supporting our schools. This year, the Cardinal is asking us to think about families who are struggling to put food on the table. Poverty is deepening across our Diocese and the need for foodbanks and supermarket vouchers has accelerated. Through your generosity we’re continuing to provide food for those people most in need. Please take a donation envelope. You can use the QR code to make your donation online. Thank you for your generosity. Envelopes can be put in the Lenten Alms Box by Our Lady’s Altar.
6th Sunday of Year B
Two of our readings today are about leprosy. The first reading from the book of Leviticus details the rules that had to be followed if a case of leprosy was suspected. The Gospel recounts the occasion when Jesus cures a man suffering from leprosy. There are similarities between leprosy and the disease we are all fighting with at the moment, COVID. Certainly both diseases are contagious. Leprosy nowadays is easily cured with medication but in Jesus’ time there was no cure and those suffering from the disease had to live separately from everybody else. So, social distancing isn’t something new! In fact, leprosy sufferers had to be even further away than the current 2-metre regulation. It was more like shielding than social distancing. In the Gospel, Jesus broke the rules by actually touching someone with leprosy, but the touching led to the curing. Jesus had brought somebody outside the fold to becoming part of the fold. And Jesus continues to do that. Through Word and Sacrament, the outsider becomes the insider. This is something we should be doing as baptised Christians: To make the outsider an insider. Our example, our welcoming, our invitation and our prayers all can play a part in making someone become close to Christ. What is rather ironical in the Gospel story is that Jesus after he had performed this miracle had to stay outside, in places where nobody lived. An insider had become an outsider. Obviously this was not for medical reasons but because the leper had spread the news that he had been cured, and Jesus did not want to go openly into any town because of the crowds. Even so, people found out where Jesus was hiding, so more would come to him.
In the second reading today, St Paul gives a piece of advice that we can all put into action: ‘whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God’. This is one way in which we can bring God into the centre of our lives. Making him an insider rather than an outsider for us. This is an excellent theme for us to take into Lent, which starts on Wednesday. If we have in our mind that everything we say or do or think, we are doing for God, then our lives will be transformed. All the worries and concerns we have we are putting into the Lord’s hands. It will help us work towards what is good and loving rather than what is bad and selfish. So at this time as we map out what we are going to do this Lent, not just giving up things but also doing things positively, we can make our goal of doing everything for the glory of God.
Fasting and Feasting in Lent
Fast from discontent—Feast on Gratitude
Fast from complaining—Feast on appreciation
Fast from bitterness—Feast on forgiveness
Fast from self concern—Feast on compassion for others
Fast from Suspicion—Feast on truth
Fast from idle gossip—Feast on purposeful silence
Fast from unrelenting pressures—Feast on unceasing prayer
Ash Wednesday At Home
We can celebrate Ash Wednesday at home, with our family, in the household or ‘support bubble’ of which we are a part. You can use this suggested formula:
1. Gather together and start with the Sign of the Cross.
2. Read the Gospel for today: St Matthew’s Gospel 6:1-6 and 16-18.
3. Say this prayer.
Lord God, with all our hearts we beseech you: have mercy on your people; strengthen all people in the struggle against the havoc of this pandemic. Lord our God, without you we are so weak and our courage so limited. Give us your strength; give us you love; give us wisdom and skill to continue this fight. Spare your people, O Lord we pray. Comfort those who mourn and gather into your kingdom all who have died. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord, who died and rose to life, who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever Amen.
4. Make the sign of the Cross on each others forehead, using either the words ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ or ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel’.
5. Pray together the Our Father; the Hail Mary; each one with his or her own prayer or intention.
6. Conclude with the ‘Glory be to the Father’.
7. Give each other a sign of Peace.
SO LENT BEGINS, If you live on your own, you can do much of this by yourself.
SAFEGUARDING DBS CHECKS
Some of our Volunteers working with children and the vulnerable need to have their DBS updated, as checks need to made every 3 years. This would include catechists working with children, altar servers over the age of 18, Four-12 members over the age of 18 and Eucharistic Ministers taking Holy Communion to the housebound who are not part of their own family. Many of these activities are suspended because of COVID restrictions but now is the time to get the DBS sorted so we are ready when full parish life resumes. If you are in one of these groups or have become a volunteer recently, please contact our new Parish Safeguarding Representative Macdara Conneely by email on firstname.lastname@example.org who will guide you on what needs to be done. Thank you.
WESTMINSTER, LONDON, SW1P 1QJ
Pastoral Letter for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
13-14 February 2021
Shortly it will be Ash Wednesday, a day rich in associations and symbolism. It marks the beginning a Lent, a time for turning again to the practice of our faith, in prayer, self-denial (fasting) and practical generosity (almsgiving). Ash Wednesday is the doorway into this season of renewal.
As we cross this threshold we customarily receive ashes on our foreheads, in the sign of the cross. This is a public mark of our turning again to God, seeking his mercy, forgiveness and help. We use these words: ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’. Yes, we cannot pretend otherwise. Or: ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel’. Yes, we seek the one thing that is absolutely necessary: the grace of God.
This year receiving ashes in church is going to be difficult. Yes, our churches are safe if the protective measures are fulfilled. But we must all be very careful about travelling too far. Some churches will of course be open for the celebration of Mass as usual. But I have asked them not to make extra provision for Ash Wednesday. We must be so careful and cooperative in the measures we must take, to protect ourselves and to protect others.
I now want to emphasise an important point. Receiving ashes is an outward sign of an inner step, a movement of the heart towards our beloved Lord. This year I invite you to concentrate much more on this inner, spiritual movement than on its outward manifestation in the imposition of ashes.
My suggestion is this: celebrate Ash Wednesday at home, with your family, in the household or ‘support bubble’ of which you are a part. Gather for a while. Read the prayer which I offer. Bless each other by making the sign of the cross on each other’s forehead. Spent some time praying in a way that you know. But please, make this a prayer of your heart for God’s mercy upon this world struggling to cope with the terrible pandemic and the devastation it is bringing.
Here is a prayer:
‘Lord God, with all our hearts we beseech you: have mercy on your people; spare your people; strengthen all people in the struggle against the havoc of this pandemic. Lord our God, without you we are so weak and our courage so limited. Give us your strength; give us your love; give us wisdom and skill to continue this fight. Spare your people, O Lord we pray. Comfort those who mourn and gather into your kingdom all who have died. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord, who died and rose to life, who lives and reigns with you, for ever and ever. Amen.’
Then, bless each other, using one of the two traditional formulas I have quoted earlier in this letter. Then continue with your own prayers. A pattern is suggested at the end of this letter.
As a child, my mother or father used to come to my bedside each night to settle me for sleep. I was kissed goodnight and then, either my Mum or Dad would make the sign of the cross on my forehead. They gave me their blessing. This brought me such security. I remember it to this day. Then I slept in peace.
So please do not hesitate, within your household or ‘bubble’, to bless each other on this Ash Wednesday. We do well to remember together our need of the good Lord. Together, and through each other, he wants to comfort and reassure us of his loving presence. If, on this day, we set aside every pretence that we can do everything of ourselves, then we create in our hearts and lives the space for God’s grace and strength to find a home in us.
This is the great invitation of Ash Wednesday and of the weeks of Lent which follow. Please do take up this invitation. Open your hearts to the gift of God’s presence to support, comfort and strengthen you. This year, it may be best to do this, not by going to church, but by sharing the prayer, the blessing and this moment of dedication within the love of your family and friends.
Please do include me in your prayers, too.
May God bless you all,
X Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster