Second Sunday after the Nativity (B)
Sunday 3 January 2021
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Message from Canon Kristian
Happy New Year to you all!
2020 was a very challenging year for us all, both as individuals and families and as a parish community. We have all had to search for, and adapt to, new ways of maintaining human contact with each other, carrying out the stuff of our everyday lives and of living out our spiritual and liturgical lives as Catholic Christians. Although there is now the brighter prospect of the ending of the pandemic on the horizon with the availability of two vaccines, we have entered 2021 in the midst of another, yet more devastating, wave of a new strain of the virus and most of the country is now under major restrictions to try to halt the spread of infection. As you will know, Devon was moved into Tier 3 restrictions this week. Whilst these restrictions are significant, there has been some confusion amongst the community concerning their impact on the celebration of Mass.
So, to clarify – according to the latest Government guidance, acts of public worship in churches are permitted in ALL tiers of Covid restrictions, including the severest restrictions of Tier 4. However, these acts of public worship have to take place observing the social distancing rules that apply in whatever Tier restrictions an area is under. This means that, for us, whilst it is still permitted to come to Mass, when arriving at church, during Mass and leaving church (including when in the carpark), care must be taken only to mix with those from your own household or support bubble. Obviously, it is not possible or appropriate to ignore fellow parishioners, but at least 2 metres distance from those not in your household or support bubble should be maintained whenever possible, face coverings should be worn unless you are exempt and hands should be sanitised on entering and leaving the building. Brief socially-distanced conversations between households/support bubbles are OK, but please avoid engaging in protracted conversations with others, especially before and after Mass, either in the church or in the carpark.
Our catechists have had a difficult year trying to maintain some continuity for our children who have been preparing for the reception of First Reconciliation and First Communion amidst all the Covid restrictions. Happily, the children were able to celebrate First Reconciliation just before Christmas and now they will be received First Communion this month. The children who have been based at St Boniface will be receiving First Holy Communion in pairs at the Sunday Masses there throughout January, whilst the children who have been based at St James will receive their First Communion all together at a special Mass on the last weekend of the month. It has been a long – and sometimes unsettling – journey for this group of our children to arrive at this point in their Christian initiation, so thank you to them, their families and their catechists for persevering in challenging circumstances. Please keep them all in our prayers throughout the month.
We already have some applications for First Holy Communion and for Confirmation for this year. Please, if you have children and young people who are due to receive these sacraments, would you complete an application form (which can be found on the parish website or at the entrance to the church) before the end of January so that we can start the preparation for these sacraments in February.
To help us maintain our reflection on the truths of the Incarnation and the Epiphany of Christ, Monika Manser has produced a leaflet to assist with the prayerful reading of this Sunday’s Gospel and a leaflet to guide some imaginative prayer on the Gospel for the Epiphany this coming Wednesday – please see the Resources>Reflections section of the parish website to read these online or download as PDFs.
Just as a reminder, from now on it is no longer necessary to pre-book a place at a weekday Mass, but on arrival at church please give your contact details to one of the stewards or write them on the slip of paper provided. However, due to the need to ensure that those who come have a place, it will still be necessary to book places at the weekend Masses in the normal way. This can be done at any time via email. However, if you wish to do this by phone, please try to call only between 10.30-11.30am Tues-Fri this week as the Parish Office will only be open for this limited time. Obviously, due to Covid restrictions, please avoid coming to the Parish Office in person until further notice.
Be assured of my prayers for you all
With every blessing for the New Year
Coming to Mass in Tier 3 Restrictions
Devon was moved into Tier 3 Restrictions this week. Whilst collective worship, such as Mass, can continue, great care must be taken to observe the social distancing rules, to wear face coverings (unless you are exempt) and to sanitise hands frequently whilst in church. Moreover, as it is not permitted to mix with people from outside your household or support bubble – even outdoors – in Tier 3 areas, please refrain from engaging others in extended conversation and maintain an appropriate distance from others at all times, both inside the church and outside in the carpark.
If you would like to come to Mass at the weekends, please contact the Parish Office, either by telephone on weekdays between 10.30-11.30am, or by email, so that we can ensure that there is a space for you.
As there are always spaces available, it is no longer necessary to book a place for at a weekday Mass. However, on arrival at church, please remember to fill in a track and trace slip or to give your details to one of the stewards.
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.
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
In more “normal” times, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord is a Holy Day of Obligation which means that, amongst other things, Catholics are asked to go to Mass on that day. Due to the pandemic, our Bishops have relaxed this obligation. However, as the Epiphany is one of the most important liturgical feasts of the Church Year and to give the opportunity for as many parishioners who desire it to be able to come to Mass on that day, the usual Mass schedule for Holy Days will be followed: a Vigil Mass at 6pm on 5 January in St James and a Mass at 10am (St James) and 12noon (St Boniface) on 6 January.
First Holy Communion Masses in January
At the 11.30am Mass at St Boniface on each Sunday throughout January, a number of our children will be receiving their First Holy Communion. This will mean that space for parishioners to attend that Mass will be even more limited than usual, so do please make sure you check with the Parish Office that there is space available for you as, unfortunately, there is no “overflow” seating at St Boniface.
The children preparing for First Communion at St James will be celebrating their First Communion at Mass on the last weekend of January.
Please keep all our First Holy Communion Children in your prayers
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.
Year of St Joseph 2020-2021
On 8 December Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter, Patris corde (“With a father’s heart”), to mark the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate that anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph”, which began on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this year and extends to 8 December 2021. The Letter is well worth a read!
The Holy Father wrote his Letter against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic which, he says, helped us to see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble St Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily discreet and hidden presence”, who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation”.
Diocesan Devotion to St Joseph during the Year of St Joseph
Throughout the Year of St Joseph, Bishop Mark is asking all parishes to seek St Joseph’s intercession every Wednesday, the day normally dedicated to him, and on the 19th day of each month. In particular, on those days, he asks that the prayer to St Joseph, given in the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter be said at Mass:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil.
The Epiphany Proclamation
The proclamation of the date of Easter and the other moveable feasts on Epiphany by the deacon after the Gospel dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. Although calendars now give these dates, the ancient proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in our year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year:
Know, dear brothers and sisters,
that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ,
so by leave of God’s mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Saviour.
On the 17th day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.
On the 4th day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Holy Passover of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the 13th day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the 23rd day of May, the feast of Pentecost.
On the 6th day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
On the 28th day of November, the First Sunday of the Advent
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom is honour and glory for ever and ever.
Holy Mass this week
Saturday 2 January – St Basil and St Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)
Sunday 3 January – Second Sunday after the Nativity
- Holy Mass at 10.00am Pro Populo
- Holy Mass at 11.30am
Tuesday 5 January – Christmas Weekday
- Holy Mass at 10.00am
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass of the Epiphany of the Lord)
Wednesday 6 January – The Epiphany of the Lord
- Holy Mass at 10.00am
- Holy Mass at 12noon (St Boniface)
Thursday 7 January – Christmas Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 8 January – Christmas Weekday
- Holy Mass at 12noon Perpetua Menezes RIP (1st anniv)
Saturday 9 January – Christmas Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)