Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Racial Justice Sunday
Sunday 31 January 2021
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Message from Canon Kristian
We have arrived at the final weekend in January already. In just over two weeks we will be entering into the Holy Season of Lent which, like last year, it seems that we will be observing and celebrating mainly in our homes rather than in church. In the Newsletters you will be beginning to see information about online resources, such as the “Global Healing” programme, which are designed to assist our spiritual and personal engagement with the concrete challenges of conversion flowing from the message of the Gospel. It might seem a bit early to be thinking of our Lenten commitments, but some often require a bit of preparation. Next week, the Newsletter will contain information about this year’s CAFOD Lent project.
There are certain “themed” Sundays that occur every year and one of these is Racial Justice Sunday, which takes place this weekend. Further information and material about this Sunday can be found on the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales website. There can be no doubt that the call to reject racism and actively to work for racial justice is close to the heart of Pope Francis. His most recent Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on fraternity and social friendship has this to say about racism: in the section dealing with “A ‘Throwaway’ World”, he writes:
“…a readiness to discard others finds expression in vicious attitudes that we thought long past, such as racism, which retreats underground only to keep re-emerging. Instances of racism continue to shame us, for they show that our supposed social progress is not as real or definitive as we think” (art 20),
and when talking about “societies open to everyone”, he makes this incisive observation:
“Every brother or sister in need, when abandoned or ignored by the society in which I live, becomes an existential foreigner, even though born in the same country. They may be citizens with full rights, yet they are treated like foreigners in their own country. Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting” (art 98).
It is precisely because “racism is a virus that mutates” that we have this annual focus on racial justice in our Church since the events and realities of each passing year present us with new forms and expressions of the evil of racism both at home and abroad, in the Church and in wider society. Catholic social teaching, summarised in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, makes is absolutely clear that: “…any theory or form whatsoever of racism and racial discrimination is morally unacceptable” (art 433), referring to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Pope St Paul VI and to an important contribution of the Holy See to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001 entitled The Church against Racism. So, let us all take some time this Sunday to reflect on my own personal attitudes and behaviour towards those I objectify – whether within the Church, in the wider community, nationally or internationally – as “different” or “not like me” or “not one of us” in any way, and take concrete action in accordance with the command of the Lord found in Mark 12:31 to “love your neighbour as yourself” (ie as if he/she were you). Justice and Peace Scotland has produced a helpful leaflet which you might find useful for your reflections. In your prayer at this time, too, you might include the prayer for this year’s Racial Justice Sunday:
Lord Jesus Christ,
in your ministry
you were approached by people
of many different nations and cultures.
You listened to their cry for help,
treated them with love and compassion,
and brought them healing and wholeness.
In our own time may we provide
to all those who are suffer
the help that they need
and the care that they require.
May we respond to the invitation of the Holy Spirit
to dream of a world made new
where the poor are not forgotten
but are given the opportunity
to live and flourish
with good health and equal prospects.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
The weekly handout to assist you with contemplative imaginative prayer on this Sunday’s Gospel, offered to you by Monika Manser, is available on the parish website (See the Resources section), and the access details for this Thursday’s Coffee Morning on Zoom, to which all parishioners are invited, are available by contacting the parish.
Please keep all those who are sick in our parish community in your prayers in a special way at this time.
You are all in my prayers daily.
With every blessing
Coming to Church during the National Lockdown
At this critical time in this wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to halt the spread of the virus, the central message is STAY AT HOME and only go outside for essential journeys. This applies above all to those who are especially vulnerable to infection – the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. Therefore, although most churches remain open for the time being, please think very carefully before venturing out to come to Mass, especially if you are included amongst those who are particularly vulnerable. Consider staying at home and taking part in Mass online or on the telephone, or simply join us in spirit in silent prayer or by reading the Mass texts.
If you do decide to come to church, great care must be taken to observe the social distancing rules, to wear a face covering (unless you are exempt) and to sanitise your hands frequently. Moreover, you should 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 to book a place, either by telephone on weekdays between 10.30-11.30am, or by email. There is no need to book a place at a weekday Mass but, on arrival at church, please give your details to one of the stewards.
Racial Justice Sunday – “A Time to Act”
This year’s Racial Justice Sunday is more important than ever. The effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, and the powerful message on fraternity and equality by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti speak of the need to oppose racism actively and pursue racial justice with renewed vigour. The theme this year is ‘A Time to Act’. Awareness, emotion and outrage have been generated this past year as a result of racial issues and inequalities, but it is not enough simply to denounce racism. This is a time to act.
Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Racial Justice in England and Wales, reminds us that
“every single one of our parishes, schools and organisations has a responsibility actively to practise anti-racism in all aspects of our mission. We need to address the lack of visible diversity at every level, so that people can see themselves, their race, their culture and their history in the Church’s life…In the words of the Holy Father: ‘This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. God asks us to dare to create something new’.”
A reflection on this Sunday’s theme, the full message from Bishop Paul, a video reflection by young adults from the Zimbabwean Catholic community in England and Wales, a parish awareness discussion and a media competition for 14-18 year olds can be found on the Bishops’ Conference website.
Global Healing Lent Evenings
In 2015, Pope Francis published his ground-breaking letter on the environment Laudato Si’. Since then, millions of people worldwide have joined the global movement to address the environmental crisis our world is facing.
This Lent, the Global Catholic Climate Movement invites you to join them for a series of reflective evenings with inspiring speakers, prayer and discussion, using the film-based resource “Global Healing”. These engaging documentaries will inform and challenge people to respond to Pope Francis’ call to Care for Our Common Home.
The sessions are suitable for all who are concerned about what is happening to our world and who want to take action. They will take place on Thursdays from 18 February-25 March 2021, 7.30pm-8.30pm. To register click here (via Zoom) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience…Truly, much can be done!” (Laudato Si’ 217, 180)
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 this weekend. Hopefully, these will now take place in May/June if restrictions have been eased by then. 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. Deacon Michael and the catechists will contact the families of all the children by email on a regular basis to keep them informed of future plans.
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.
Stay Awake 2021 – Adore + Abide + Arise
This is the third year for this home-grown diocesan all age event and takes place on Saturday 27 February online via Zoom and is free. Stay Awake allows us to go deeper with Jesus and build Christian discipleship. It runs from 11.00am to 3.00pm with inspiring and encouraging talks, praise, worship and fellowship, in the comfort of your own home! There is a special session for children and young people from 1.00-1.30pm (Reception – Year 9). Booking is open via the webpage.
Parish Diaries 2021
The 2021 Parish Diaries have arrived and, though a little later than in previous years (and with a deliberate mistake on the cover!), we are very grateful to the Company for their efforts to produce these for us during very challenging circumstances due to Covid. The diaries can be found at the entrance to church. They are free of charge but, if you would like to give a donation, this would be gratefully received.
You Can Help Your Marriage
Do you feel alone? Are you frustrated or angry at each other? Do you argue … or have you just stopped talking to each other? Does talking about it only make it worse? Retrouvaille (which means “rediscovery”) helps couples through difficult times in their marriages and has helped 10s of 1000s of couples to uncover or re-awaken the love, trust and commitment that originally brought them together.
Retrouvaille brings a positive focus, new hope and helps nourish and grow your marriage….and you don’t need to leave home, it comes to you! Also, there is no group therapy or group work involved.
For confidential information about Retrouvaille, or to register for the next programme – a virtual weekend on 25-28 February 2021 – call or text 07887 296983 or 07973 380443, email email@example.com, or visit www.retrouvaille.org.uk.
Holy Mass and Events this week
Saturday 30 January – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)
Sunday 31 January – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Holy Mass at 10.00am Pro Populo
- Holy Mass at 11.30am (St Boniface, Cullompton)
Tuesday 2 February – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
- Holy Mass at 10.00am
Wednesday 3 February – St Blaise, Bishop and Martyr
- Holy Mass at 12 Noon (St Boniface)
Thursday 4 February – Weekday
- Coffee Morning at 11.00am on Zoom
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 5 February – St Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
- Holy Mass at 12noon
Saturday 6 February – St Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)