Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday 17 January 2021
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Message from Canon Kristian
The periods of our liturgical year which we called “ordinary time” are those months when we are immersed more fully and consistently into the life and ministry of Jesus through the eyes of one of evangelists of the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark or Luke. As we are in Year B this year, our spiritual lives and our daily living are being nourished by the Gospel of St Mark. One of the first things that Jesus does is to gather a group of followers around him and it is that “call” or “vocation” that we hear this Sunday. As he invited his disciples to do 2000 years ago, the Lord speaks lovingly and directly to the heart of each one of us saying “Come, follow me”.
In these times of Covid when we are largely kept apart and unable to gather together as disciples, many of the usual markers of the yearly cycle of Church celebrations and events have tended to come and go without much notice being taken of them. This week there are two events which speak directly to our following of Christ.
The first is Peace Sunday. Most of the Catholic world celebrates the World Day of Peace on 1 January each year. In England and Wales, the Bishops move this celebration to today, the third Sunday in January. Each year, the Holy Father issued brief Message which highlights an aspect of Christian teaching concerning peace pertinent to these times. This year, for the 54th World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has taken as his theme: “The Culture of Care as a Path to Peace”. He was led to reflect on this theme by the
“massive Covid-19 health crisis, which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship. I think especially of all those who lost family members or loved ones, and all who lost their jobs. I think too of physicians and nurses, pharmacists, researchers, volunteers, chaplains and the personnel of hospitals and healthcare centres. They have made, and are continuing to make, great sacrifices to be present to the sick, to alleviate their sufferings and to save their lives; indeed, many of them have died in the process… Sad to say, alongside all these testimonies of love and solidarity, we have also seen a surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction in their wake. These and other events that marked humanity’s path this past year have taught us how important it is to care for one another and for creation in our efforts to build a more fraternal society. That is why I have chosen as the title of this year’s Message, A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. A culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.”
The Catholic organisation which seeks to spread the Christian message of peace and to witness actively to Jesus’ teaching on this issue is Pax Christi. Perhaps today would be a time to familiarise yourself with this organisation and its work in this country (Pax Christi England and Wales – International Catholic Movement for Peace) and to consider how, in your response to Jesus’ invitation to follow him, an active witness to peace is part of your daily discipleship.
The second event is the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Any sharing of worship or mission with our Christian brothers and sisters over the last year has been hindered by the restrictions of the pandemic, but we should not let the annual week of prayer pass without our engagement. We have heard that part of Jesus’s Farewell Discourse in St John’s Gospel where he prays that his disciples “…may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21) so often that it no longer really disturbs us that the Christian family is riven with divisions and rivalry, contrary to the explicit desire of Christ and undermining the effectiveness of our Christian mission. Catholic bishops around the world were all reminded this year that: “…the bishop cannot consider the promotion of the ecumenical cause as one more task in his varied ministry, one that could and should be deferred in view of other, apparently more important, priorities. The bishop’s ecumenical engagement is not an optional dimension of his ministry but a duty and obligation.” To assist the Bishops will this ministry of unity, they have been provided a special Handbook or “ Vademecum” in Latin, which is well worth a read. The Handbook reminds us, too, that every member of the Church, whoever we are, must be concerned with prayer and work for Christian unity: “Pope Francis has captured this in the phrase, “walking together, praying together and working together”. By sharing our Christian lives with other Christians, by praying with and for them, and by giving common witness to our Christian faith through action, we grow into the unity which is the Lord’s desire for his Church.” This year’s daily reflections for the worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been composed by the ecumenical community of Sisters of Grandchamp in Switzerland (Community of Grandchamp). These Sisters come from different Christian Churches and different countries and witness to the unity Christ desires for his followers by their life together. The daily prayer and reflections are based on Jesus’ teaching about the Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-17): “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”. A link to the pamphlet is included in the Newsletter. Let us remember to pray for our fellow Christians in Tiverton and Cullompton in a special way this week and consider how we each work for and witness to the unity of the Christian family.
The on-going Covid restrictions are impacting all areas of our life, including our mental health. It is recognised that the negative impact of the pandemic on the mental health of many, both young and old, will be deep and long-lasting. Caritas Plymouth has put together a very usual guide containing a number of resources to help us to care for our mental health. It will be an essential part of our parish life, as things start to find a new equilibrium once restrictions are eased, to be vigilant and caring about our own mental health and that of those around us.
Sadly, we have had to postpone yet again the celebration of First Holy Communion for our children based at St James which was planned for the end of this month. Given the exponential increase in the spread of the new Covid variant and the strict guidance to avoid unnecessary contact and gathering with those outside of your household or support bubble, we are unable to justify bringing families together in church in this way. In addition, priests have been reminded this week that people should ordinarily not be kept together in church for longer than 30 minutes (with the additional reminder that, amongst other things, this means that preaching should be brief!). Thus, it would be impossible to celebrate the First Holy Communion Masses is a dignified and worthy way. Therefore, we hope to be able to have an appropriately joyful and solemn celebration for these children in May or June. This does mean that we will be forced to “skip” a year and the preparation for those children who, in the normal way, would have received the First Communion in 2021 will now start after the summer with those who will make First Communion in 2022. I am sure that this will be a cause of disappointment for many parents and children but we are all having to accept that this pandemic has had a major impact on nearly all areas of our lives.
Monika Manser has once again generously provided a guide to contemplative, imaginative prayer on this Sunday’s Gospel and there will be a Coffee Morning this week on Zoom, open to all parishioners at 11am. The access details are available from the parish office.
I pray that you will all keep both safe and well.
With every blessing
Restrictions in Church during National Lockdown
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, 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. It is no longer necessary to book a place for at a weekday Mass but, on arrival at church, please remember to fill in a track and trace slip or to give your details to one of the stewards.
In England and Wales we celebrate Peace Sunday on the third Sunday of January. This day provides us with an opportunity to build on the global World Day of Peace that is celebrated on New Year’s Day each year and is accompanied by a Message from Pope Francis, which has as its theme: “A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace”. The Holy Father calls on leaders in all sectors – the state, business, science and academics, international organisations and media – to adopt the principles of Catholic Social Teaching: the dignity and rights of each person, the common good, solidarity, peacebuilding, and the protection of creation.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place between 18 and 25 January, has been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland. The theme this year is: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, based on John 15:1-17 and expresses the Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.
Today the Community has fifty Sisters, women from different generations, Church traditions, countries and continents. In their diversity the Sisters are a living parable of communion. They remain faithful to a life of prayer, life in community and the welcoming of guests. The Sisters share the grace of their monastic life with visitors and volunteers who go to Grandchamp for a time of retreat, silence, healing or in search of meaning.
During this Week, the Sisters are inviting Churches across the world to enter into their tradition of prayer and silence, rooted in the ancient traditions of the Church. There is a pamphlet with daily prayers and reflections, and Christian Aid has provided Go and Do action points for each day, linking into the important Christian mission of the relief of poverty and advocacy of justice.
Mental Health and Covid-19
The ongoing pandemic is causing many people to feel stress and anxiety. Caritas Plymouth has put together a range of resources to guide Catholics in looking after their mental health, including access to prayer resources and links to organisations offering support. These can be accessed here.
Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation
Unfortunately, due to the on-going impact of Covid restrictions, it will no longer be possible to go ahead with the First Communion Masses at St James planned for the end of the month. Hopefully, these will now take place in May/June when restrictions have been eased. This does mean that those children who were due to make their First Holy Communion this year will now start their preparation in the autumn.
The catechists and clergy will be discussing how best to approach the situation with regards to preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, as the Bishop is due to visit the parish in July.
“Welcome the Stranger” Online Event
Caritas Plymouth and Caritas Clifton invite you to join Bishop Mark and Bishop Declan Lang for an evening of prayer, reflection and discussion on the issues facing refugees, migrants and those affected by modern slavery in the South West on 8 February, 5.00-6.30pm. Guest speakers include Nick Hanrahan from the Jesuit Refugee Service and Caroline Virgo from the Clewer Initiative. The event will take place via Zoom and you can register by following this link or emailing email@example.com.
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
The Department of Health is holding a public consultation on whether to continue the practice, permitted due to Covid lockdown, of allowing abortion providers to send abortion pills to women so that they can perform their own abortion at home. SPUC are asking everyone who is pro-life to complete the official questionnaire in order to help stop dangerous DIY abortions becoming permanent. SPUC has prepared a briefing which gives a step by step guide to completing the questionnaire. The consultation ends on 26 February 2021.
100 Days of Prayer
The National Office for Vocation has dedicated the first 100 days of this year to prayer for vocations, celebrating our Church with a special focus on the saints of England and Wales. You are invited to join in this prayer.
Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord
There will be a Funeral Service for Abraham Joseph Leatham RIP on Tuesday 26 January at 1.00pm.
The Requiem Mass for George Fitz-Costa RIP will be celebrated on Wednesday 27 January at 10.00am, his body having been received into church at 4.00pm on Tuesday.
Please keep them and all who mourn for them in your prayers.
Mass “by phone”
For those parishioners who cannot come to church at the moment and who are not able to access the internet, it is possible to listen to Mass each Sunday via telephone by ringing 01642 130120. This is a service provided by the Diocese of Middlesbrough.
CAFOD Annual Report Summary
CAFOD has shared a summary of their financial statements and annual review for 2019-20. Last year, CAFOD spent £45.9 million and made a total of 545 direct grants to partners in support of their charitable aims across the globe.
Congratulations to Alan Newsome, who won the £30 prize, and to Teresa Cummings, who won the £20 prize in the January draw.
Holy Mass and Events this week
Saturday 16 January – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)
Sunday 17 January – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Holy Mass at 10.00am Pro Populo and at 11.30am (St Boniface)
Tuesday 19 January – St Wulstan, Bishop
- Holy Mass at 10.00am Brian Downes RIP
Wednesday 20 January – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 12noon (St Boniface)
Thursday 21 January – St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
- Coffee Morning at 11.00am on Zoom
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 22 January – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 12noon
Saturday 23 January – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)