5th Sunday of Lent (A) 29 MARCH 2020
Today’s Gospel account of the Raising of Lazarus points to the power of God to raise us from the depths of death to the height of life. With just two weeks to go before Easter, the Gospel is preparing us for the wonder of the Resurrection. And in these worrying times, it is also pointing us to the fact that this situation is just temporary. It is giving us hope. The Good News we live by is a message of life. The Spirit of life, which hovered over creation at the very beginning, has been given to us. We can sing the praises of the God from whom all life comes.
In today’s first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord says ‘I am now going to open your graves. I mean to raise you from your graves, my people’. So through Ezekiel the Lord promises resurrection for his people, and in the Gospel we see it enacted at the command of God through Jesus’ prayer. However, the focus in the Gospel is not so much on Lazarus and his rising, but on the faith of Martha and Mary. It is the faith of Martha which comes to the fore in this episode, whereas in the previous encounter that Jesus had with these sisters, it was Mary who was praised for her listening as opposed to Martha's serving. Today, Martha expresses her faith that God will grant whatever Jesus asks, and that he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day. It is then that Jesus makes one of his ‘I Am’ Statements. He says ‘ I am the resurrection and the life’. Martha responds by making a grand profession of faith—’I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world’.
Today, we could use Martha as an example to encourage us. We can make a similar profession of faith in our prayers, especially as we are not able currently to do so by saying the Creed together. We could also play our part in imitating Martha in our serving of one another—making sure that our neighbour is o.k., keeping in touch by phone and indeed in allowing our faith in the resurrection to shine through.
The Coronavirus Situation
Because of Government guidelines, we cannot have any public acts of worship in the church or any gatherings in the Canon Smyth Parish Centre, for the time being. We have learned this week that we are required to close the church doors for the time being. I will continue to offer Mass each day but in private. If you have booked a Mass, it will be said but not necessarily at the time you arranged. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed for the time being.
The celebration of the Sacraments and their preparation is deferred until the situation changes. Special arrangements will be made for funerals.
Today we start the season of Passiontide when we focus even more on the Passion of Jesus Christ. During these two weeks leading up to the Easter Triduum, the statues in the church will be covered and the votive candles will be removed.
Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse
Friday is a Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse. You may like to use the following prayer on this day:
Praise to you Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the source of all consolation and hope. Be the refuge and guardian of all who suffer from abuse and violence. Comfort them and send healing for their wounds of the body, soul and spirit. Help us all and make us one with you in your love for justice as we deepen our respect for the dignity of every human life. Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating your praise, both now and forever. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.
Matthew 4: 123
Year of the Word Scripture Quotes
I am the resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Next Sunday is officially known as Passion Sunday but popularly known as Palm Sunday. Unfortunately, we cannot have any Palm processions, this year but I hope it will be possible for me to bless the palms privately and have them available for you to collect, at a later date.
The Re-dedication of England as Mary’s Dowry
Today was the day when every cathedral and every parish was to make a Communal Entrustment, renewing the vows of dedication made to Mary by King Richard II. Back in 1381, the world was in political turmoil. By re-dedicating this country to Mary in these times, we can ask for her intercession to protect our country and indeed other countries from this virus. I will be making this Act of Re-dedication on your behalf.
“The Passage is raising funds through the Big Give until 12 midnight Tues 31st March 2020 to support its work Helping Homeless People to move away from the street to during the present Coronavirus situation and to provide support to keep them off the street both immediately and in the longer term.. Double your Donation, Double your impact. This is a matched giving scheme for online donations. If someone (can be company, individual or trust) gave £10 online matched giving of £10 would bring the Gift up to £20 (and for individuals to £22.50 with Gift Aid with higher rate tax relief it may cost the donor less than £10). For more information ring Andrew Hollingsworth 020 7592 1886 email@example.com Donate at https://bit.ly/334RmGH”
No one is alone!
Prayer when confined to your home
This time of the covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity for all of us - especially in families and as Church - to pray more intensely for each other and especially for those who have succumbed
to the illness.
It is also a time when those of us who are sick, or whose lives
are turned upside down because of being self-isolated 1, may
find it difficult to pray in their new circumstances.
The experience of isolation, to some, may seem to offer the
unexpected opportunity of a retreat at home, undistracted by
other responsibilities. However, distractions are rarely so compliant!
And the circumstances that have led to this time apart
can turn out to be profoundly unsettling.
It can be easy to feel discouraged and to give up on prayer, at
the very time when there is deepest need to know and feel the love and mercy of God and
to entrust our worries and concerns to him.
Do not be afraid to bring any feelings of weakness and vulnerability
to the Lord in prayer. But also do not be surprised if
you find it difficult to pray at all. Be gentle with yourself, and
try to do what you can, and see where that might lead you. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
A few simple suggestions:
• You might use the following prayer
General Prayer for Health
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
• Read and reflect on a passage of scripture, even a single verse…
• O Lord, come to my rescue, Ps 39:14
Lord, come to my aid.
• Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Jer 17:14
save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.
• Lord, save me. Matt 14: 30
• Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Rev 22:20
• Simply hold a cross or crucifix and ask to know the closeness
of Jesus to you, to know his sharing in your pain, for love of
you. You might use any cross, but especially popular are the
olive wood hand crosses made in Palestine. We offer our sickness
and suffering in union with others, with Jesus, of course,
but with all who suffer.
• Pray a decade of the Rosary - or just hold the beads and remind
yourself of God’s love and care
• Quietly sing or hum a favourite hymn tune… Can’t remember
the words? Try ‘google’.
• Make use of a picture that speaks to you of God’s power, love,
and care. You may have guidebooks to favourite shrines which
can focus prayer - and again, of course, ‘google’ offers many
Got the desire and energy for something more?
• It has long been the Church’s encouragement that those unable
to attend Mass on Sundays should, if they can, spend time
in prayer reading the readings and prayers of the Day. These
texts can be found in a People’s Missal, or in the Universalisapp2. You might like to offer your prayer at the same time as
Mass is usually offered in your parish.
• The Universalis app also makes available the texts of the
Church’s Divine Office - her daily prayer. You might find
Morning, Evening and Night Prayer the most helpful.
• Other forms of spiritual reading can be very supportive during
a time of isolation. If you find you have nothing to hand
ask friends and neighbours if they can recommend something.
(To avoid import the virus it will be safer to avoid library
books etc. Often ordering from the likes of Amazon will
be the most convenient source.)
• You can find broadcasts of Mass - including the Pope’s daily
Mass - online or on subscription TV.
Feeling on the fringes of things?
In sickness, you have the benefit of knowing that you are being
prayed for by the Church. You may also be in a position where you
can pray to God for yourself and your needs.
In addition – even in illness – you may find you have the strength
and energy, and the desire, to pray for others.
And when you can you are, of course, sharing in the mission of the
Church, interceding for those in need, sharing your love, inspired
by the Lord’s love.
• If you are sick or in isolation you have a particular experience
of this to bring to the Lord as you pray on behalf of others.
Your prayer may be all the more informed and focussed, in
There are times when people are unable to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, through
illness or due to their personal disposition. Even though some may not receive ‘sacramental’
Communion, all are united in some way by the Holy Spirit. The traditional idea of ‘spiritual’
Communion is an important one to remember and reaffirm. A deep spiritual communion is
possible even when we do not share together the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
(cf. Celebrating the Mass 212)
I believe that you are present in this Holy Sacrament of the altar.
I love you above all things
and I passionately desire to receive you into my soul.
Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,
come spiritually into my soul
so that I may unite myself wholly to you now and forever.
Amen. based on a prayer of St Alphonsus Liguori
Prayer for Health Staff
Wondrous God, author of life,
you fashioned us in your likeness
and breathed into us the life which is your own.
Be with those whose special care is the health of mind and body.
Fill their hearts with awe for the life which is your gift
and sustain them daily in your service,
that their hands may bring to others
the comfort of your healing touch.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for those affected by the current situation
come to the help of your people.
Be our shelter in this time of peril
and strengthen the bonds of our community.
Bring healing to all who suffer the ravages of disease
and assist those whose skill and art can put an end to this affliction.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for the Household
Hear us, Lord, and send your angel from heaven
to visit and protect, to comfort and defend all who live in this house. Amen.
The above No one is alone leaflet is produced for use in the Diocese of Westminster. Prayers © 1998, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The Diocese of Westminster is a registered charity No.233699.
Continues to issue video messages which are posted on our website.
We have been made aware of a number of scams linked to the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from fraudsters selling counterfeit products and phishing emails, to scammers knocking on the doors of vulnerable people offering to run errands for them or claiming they are there to test them for coronavirus. There is further information at this link https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51964507 Please be vigilant and please share this information with parishioners and neighbours.
As a reminder, the list of parishes streaming or live-streaming Mass in our diocese can be found on our website: https://rcdow.org.uk/news/how-to-participate-in-mass-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/
There is also a growing list of prayers and online resources on https://rcdow.org.uk/news/resources-during-mass-suspension/