Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (A)

Sunday 22 November 2020

Youth Sunday

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Message from Canon Kristian

Dear Parishioners

After perhaps the strangest year of life as a parish community most of us have ever known, we have arrived at the final Sunday of the Church’s Year.  We conclude the last twelve months of our Christian discipleship and of liturgical and personal prayer by celebrating the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  The Kingdom of God is like no other any human power has created or will create.  As Brian McLaren summaries the Lord’s teaching about the Kingdom in his book entitled “Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope” (Thomas Nelson, 2007):

In God’s kingdom order becomes opportunity, stability melts into movement and change, status-quo government gives way to a revolution of community and neighbourliness, policy bows down to love, domination descends to service and sacrifice, control morphs into influence and inspiration, and vengeance and threats are transformed into forgiveness and blessing.”

On this Sunday, we look back over the last year to see where we have perceived something of that Kingdom already present around us and in our world and where we have been authentic messengers and “doers” of the Kingdom in our own lives.  We also look forward towards the future in unshakeable hope, recalling that God:

“…has let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning, to act upon when the times had run their course to the end: that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10).

In the Letter to the Colossians, probably quoting of early Christian hymn about Christ as the head of all creation, St Paul fleshes this out a bit more:

Christ: “…is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for in Him were created all things, in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, thrones, sovereignties, rulers, authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him.  He exists before all things, and in Him all things hold together, and He is the head of the body, the Church.  He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that He should be supreme in every way; because God wanted all fullness to be found in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, by making peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:15-20).

God’s Kingdom will not reach its completion until all things are united in Christ and Christ has reconciled all things to him.  This is the glorious vision underlying the easily misunderstood word “Kingdom” that we celebrate on this day of Christ, “King of the Universe” – in the words of the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer for the solemnity: “…an eternal and universal kingdom:
a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace”.

Although we are holding the rescheduled annual collection for the Day of Life this Sunday, we should not forget that traditionally the Solemnity of Christ the King is observed as Youth Sunday.  Although we cannot gather at Mass as we normally would, it is vitally important that we have a special intention to thank God for all our marvellous young members of our parish community.  They are a real gift to us and their presence at church is greatly missed.  These Covid-times have been a particular challenge for them, having disrupted their educational timetables and isolated them physically from the friends. On behalf of the community, I want them to know that they are regarded as a central part of our life as a parish and to thank their families for the support and care they give to them in so many different ways.  Our young people are not only our future, but also an important part of our present!

In a change from the recent format, in order to cut down on the amount of attachments which caused some issues electronically last week, most of the documents and other information contained in the various sections of the Newsletter can now be found on the various websites by clicking on the blue underlined “hyperlinks” in the text.  Hopefully this will solve the issues that were experienced with last weekend’s Newsletter post.  So please do follow those links to access the particular document or information being highlighted.

Amongst the documents mentioned today, the most important are (a) the Statement from the Bishops of England and Wales following from their meeting last week concerning their commitment to listen to the voice of the victim-survivors of sexual abuse as they implement all the changes recommended by the two Reports they have recently received and (b) the reflection document “A Precious Place of God’s Grace” issued by Bishop Mark and the Bishop’s Council concerning the need to reform our parish structures in the light of the teaching of recent Popes on the need to become communities of “disciple-making disciples” and in the light of the particular challenges facing us in our country, many of them having been brought into stark relief by the impact of the coronavirus.  In the New Year, circumstances permitting, it is planned to start a process of reflection at parish level on the implications of this document, as we look forward to what things might look like for us over the next five years.  I hope to be able to engage as many of you as possible in this reflection, which will become a part of the process of consultation and decision-making by the Bishop and his Council.

I once again urge anyone who has used Gift Aid Envelopes to transfer to a Standing Order if at all possible, so as to reduce the possibilities of spreading infection by the counting and banking of money.  Margaret Found is always on hand to give advice about this, if you have any questions.  Just send her an email via the parish email and she will get back to you.  Guidance and Banks Order details can be sent on request for those who might need it.

The weekly aid to contemplative imaginative prayer on the Sunday Gospel produced by Monika Manser is also available to download, as usual, from the Resources section of the parish website.

As I mentioned last week, due to the lockdown, we are holding a weekly “Coffee Morning” on Zoom on Thursdays at 11.00am to provide an opportunity to link up with and chat to other members of the parish community.  There is an open invitation to all parishioners to drop in for a while and have a chat.  Please contact the parish for access details.

Next weekend will be the First Sunday of Advent (Year B).  Before then, we are planning to deliver or send copies of the “Day by Day” and “Walk with me” booklets to as many households of the parish as possible as a way of connecting with each other and undertaking a joint spiritual journey of preparation for the celebration of Christmas.  Many thanks to those who have offered to help with delivery.  We will be in contact soon.

I send you my very best wishes and assure you of my prayer for you all.  Keep well and keep safe.

With every blessing

Canon Kristian

Our Churches are Open for Private Prayer

Because of the national lockdown to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Masses open to the public are not permitted by law until the situation is reviewed on December 2.

However, apart from the transfer back to St James of the time for Mass on Wednesdays, our churches will be open for private prayer at the times that were established for Mass in order to maintain a rhythm of prayer in our parish community.  On weekdays the church will be open for half an hour at the established time and at the weekend times for one hour.  The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed on the altar as a focus for prayer.  Making the effort to come to pray in church is also a concrete sign that we value the gift of having our churches there for us. There is no need to pre-book to come along for private prayer.

Both St James and St Boniface have their own QR code for use with the NHS App and these are posted at the entrance and exit of each church.  We have been asked to continue to take people’s details manually as well.

Daily Joint Act of Prayer for an End to the Pandemic

We are invited, together with people of all faiths throughout the country, to participate in a joint act of prayer at 6pm each day, wherever we happen to be, for an end to the Covid pandemic.  Bishop Mark recommends that at this time we should pray the Angelus.

November – Month of Prayer for the Holy Souls

Thank you to all of those who have placed their Holy Souls Lists in the urns in church. During the celebration of Mass on 28 November, the last day of the Church Year, although none of you can be present physically, Canon Kristian will read through the sheets and pray especially for all those named.

Collection for the Day of Life 2020 – “Choose Life”

The annual second collection for the Day for Life 2020, which was to have taken place on 21 June, takes place this weekend. The theme for Day for Life 2020 is Choose Life, with a particular focus on protecting mothers and unborn children, and bringing hope and healing after abortion.  Moses’ invitation rings out loud and clear:

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30:15, 19).

Donations can be left in the baskets in church or given using our contactless facility.

Bishops’ Conference Statement on Safeguarding

Following the recent Report from the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse regarding the Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Final Report of the Independent Review on Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements, the Bishops of England and Wales have issued a Statement acknowledging “without hesitation, our failings, our mistakes, our lack of adequate cooperation” and expressing their deep sorrow and asking forgiveness, especially from the victims and survivors of sexual abuse.  The Bishops therefore commit themselves to the implementation of the recommendations contained in both reports.

Last weekend Bishop Mark issued his own Pastoral Message  and asked that it be made available again this weekend in all our parishes.

“A Precious Place of God’s Grace”

Over the last few months Bishop Mark and the Bishop’s Council have been reflecting on the future of our present parish structures in light of the recent teaching of the Holy Father and the departments of the Roman Curia on evangelisation and in the light of the specific challenges facing the Church in this country today.  They have produced a document entitled “A Precious Place of God’s Grace”, which will form the basis of further reflection by the clergy and the people in our parishes in the New Year.  The text of the document can be found here.

Sacramental Preparation 2021

Parents who would like their children (aged 7 and over) to make their First Holy Communion in 2021 are asked to fill out the Application Form and to return it to the Parish Office as soon as possible. If you are 12 or older – or have a young person of this age – and would like to be confirmed by the Bishop in July 2021, please complete the Application Form and return it to the Parish Office as soon as possible.

Parish Giving

In October, the following amounts were received in parish giving:

St James St Boniface
Loose + SumUp: £641.00 + £232.00 £140.30 + £10.00
Gift Aid Envelopes +SumUp £80.00 + £70.00 £71.00 + £35.00
Standing Orders: £1666 £495.00
Total: £2698.00  £759.30

Fund-raising for the Parish and Donations to CHAT

Easyfundraising brought in £27.57 for the quarter to 30 September.  This is an easy way of raising funds for the parish when buying from some of the most frequently used online sales websites.  All you need to do is to sign up. Why not take a look and join other parishioners who donate while they shop?

Some lovely Christmas Novelties as well as raffle tickets for Canon Kristian’s Christmas Cake (£1 each) are on sale at the church. Orders for the Christmas Novelties can also be emailed to the Parish Office and Margaret Found will put them together for you ready to pick up at church. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or card via our contactless facility.

Christine Pickford has kindly offered to make bespoke face coverings in “Christmassy” fabrics, £2.50 each. Samples of the materials can be found at the entrance to St James, together with an envelope to place your order. After covering costs, all proceeds will be donated to CHAT. You can also donate to the CHAT Christmas Foodbank appeal and make preparations to take part in the Reverse Advent Calendar.

Times of Opening for Private Prayer and other Events

Saturday 21 November – Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • 11.00am – 12noon (Worldwide Hour of Adoration)
  • 6.00pm-7.00pm

Sunday 22 November – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

  • 10.00am-11.00am
  • 11.30am-12.30pm (St Boniface)

34th Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday 24 November – St Andrew Dũng-Lạc & Comps, Martyrs

  • 10.00am-10.30am

Wednesday 25 November – Weekday

  • 12noon-12.30pm

Thursday 26 November – Weekday

  • 11.00am Coffee Morning via Zoom
  • 6.30pm-7.00pm

Friday 27 November – Weekday

  • 12noon-12.30pm

Saturday 28 November – Prayer for the Holy Souls of the Parish

  • 6.00pm-7.00pm