Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sunday 14th February 2021
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Message from Canon Kristian
Dear Brothers and Sisters
This Sunday is the last Sunday before the Holy Season of Lent begins on Wednesday, when ashes will be distributed during Mass as a tangible sign acknowledging our human frailty before God, our need for God’s compassionate forgiveness and our desire to set out once again on a journey of interior spiritual renewal. Due to the need to avoid the spread of the virus through touch, the ashes this year will be sprinkled on the head of each person rather than used to mark a cross on the forehead. Please note that there will be three Masses celebrated on Ash Wednesday:
- St James at 10.00am and 6.00pm
- St Boniface at 12noon.
The continuing restrictions on movement and gathering will obviously impact on our observance of Lent as a parish on the liturgical and community levels, but it is important that we undertake and live whatever Lenten discipline we adopt as individuals in union and in communion with each other, remembering that the path of conversion and purification is not only a personal one, but one we also take together as a community and as a part of wider society. Sin is not only personal, it is also structural, that is, embedded in social and political attitudes, the policies and decisions of our own country and of the international community. Prompted and aided by the Spirit, and assisted by the traditional Lenten practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, we are called to enter with courage into that “secret place” within us, into the “heart space”, where we come face to face with who we really are before God. There we open ourselves up to the transforming grace of that encounter, which dismantles bit by bit the disfigured “false self” that we have created of ourselves in order to reveal our “true self”, God’s “work of art” to use that beautiful expression of St Paul (cf Ephesians 2:10). This willingness to face the conflicts that are present – but so often kept hidden – in the depths of our being not only allows the grace of God to resolve and heal them, but this reconciliation also and inevitably overflows into our relationships with others and with the created world of which we are a part (cf Mark 7:14-23, James 4:1-12). Our Lenten journey is a process of “letting go”, of “emptying oneself” after the pattern of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity, that we might share in his divinity (cf Philippians 2:7-8; the Prayer of the Commingling of Water and Wine at Mass). This generosity of Christ towards us – Christ who, although he was rich, became poor for our sake, so that we might become rich through his poverty – must become the measure of our generosity and of the genuineness of our love and concern for others (cf 2 Corinthians 8:7-9).
As well as being the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, on this day, 14 February, the Church also commemorates the feast day of the brothers Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, the Apostles to the Slavic Peoples and Co-Patrons of Europe. Society around us also celebrates this day as “Valentine’s Day”, with its hearts, flowers, chocolates and cherubs with bows and arrows of love! I suspect that the vast majority of people no longer see any connection with the ancient commemoration of Saint Valentine on this day. He is the Patron Saint of the Italian city of Terni, where he became Bishop in AD 197. During his years of ministry, he was renowned for his devotion to those in need, for working miracles and for healing the sick. Like many of the early Christian community of that era, he suffered persecution under the Roman Emperor and is believed to have been martyred for the Faith on 14 February 245. His tomb in Terni soon became a place of pilgrimage, eventually being looked after by Benedictine monks. It was the Benedictine monks who spread devotion to St Valentine as they set up monasteries all over Europe in the Middle Ages. There are a number of legends connected with St Valentine which acted as a basis for his association with “young love”. For example, it is said that he secretly married young Christian couples so that the men would be exempt from conscription into the Roman Legions. Apart from these legends, there are others who take the view that St Valentine’s Day “christianised” a pagan festival which was held on this day (a practice of the early Christian missionaries which was not uncommon ) and which celebrated the first signs of the return of spring – the budding of flowers and the mating of birds. Whatever the truth of all this, it is clear that, as Christians, we see in the ministry and martyrdom of St Valentine a witness to a love of self-sacrifice, a love which finds its ultimate basis and meaning in the Sacrifice of Christ, who “loved us to the end” (cf Eucharistic Prayer IV), which has little to do with the expressions of ephemeral romantic love on show today. It is the love of total self-gift and self-giving which we celebrate today, not only in the lives of married couples, but in the lives of all who gives themselves fully in love of others.
A very practical way in which we can show that self-giving love is to take part in parish “Walk for Water” to raise funds for CAFOD, either by donating via the JustGiving page given in the Newsletter or by joining the “Parish Team” and working together to walk the 400,000 steps during Lent. It doesn’t matter how many steps you can offer – it can be as few or as many as you feel able to do – just let Jane Trott know by email that you would like to become a member of the Team so she can keep a running total of the steps done. The more we have on the Team, the less steps each of us will need to do. Let’s make this a real parish effort!
Along with the Newsletter Monika Manser has provided us with two guides to contemplative prayer using our imaginations – one for the Gospel for this Sunday (“Be Cured”) and one for the Gospel on Ash Wednesday (“Prayer, Almsgiving, Fasting”). I thank her for her generosity and commitment in offering these helps to prayerful meditation on the Scriptures each week. You can find these on the parish website under the Resources section.
As we are still in “lockdown”, the usual Coffee Morning on Zoom will take place on Thursday at 11am. EVERYONE is welcome to pop in, even if only for a few minutes. The access details are available from the parish office.
Please continue to remember the sick and vulnerable members of our parish in your prayers. Also, please pray for the repose of the soul of Mary Walker, who died during the week. Before the deterioration of her illness, she was a committed member of the parish and was known to many of you. Do keep her husband, Geoff, in prayer too. He has cared for Mary with incredible devotion for many years and will miss her greatly.
I wish all of you a positive and fruitful Lenten journey towards the celebration of the Easter Mysteries.
You all remain in my prayers
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 out 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.
When in 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.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the holy Season of Lent. Mass, with a modified form of the distribution of ashes, will be celebrated at 10am and 6pm at St James and at 12noon at St Boniface. For those who cannot get to church on that day, CAFOD will be broadcasting Mass at 7.00pm. You can register to take part here.
Due to Covid restrictions, it will not be possible to observe many of the “normal” parish Lenten devotions and gatherings, but there are plenty of opportunities available online, some of which are included in the weekly newsletter. We will also be posting to as many households as possible the “Walk with Me” and “Day by Day” booklets, with a reflection for each day of Lent.
Ash Wednesday is an obligatory Day of Fast from food (for those between the ages of 18 and 59) and of Abstinence for meat (for those over 14).
Online Masses and Stations of the Cross
Many of you have already found places online where you regularly share in the Mass and other devotions. However, for those who are still looking, the Bishops of England and Wales have now put together a list of Catholic churches that broadcast live Mass in this country.
The Stations of the Cross will be broadcast by CAFOD on the Fridays in Lent, starting from Friday 19 February, at 11.00am. You can register to take part here.
Lenten Bible Study Sessions
You are invited to join Mauro Ianicelli for six free Wednesday evening Bible Study sessions (17 February-24 March, 7.00pm-8.30pm), to break open each Lenten Sunday Gospel…before you go to Sunday Mass! He will walk you through the Gospel with in-depth teaching and stimulating questions. For information and registration go to www.comeandsee.org/lent.
Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation
Deacon Michael has been in contact with the families of the children and young people who are due to be preparing for the sacraments this year. You are certainly not forgotten and we will keep you updated with news of plans as soon as we can.
CAFOD Lent Challenge – Walk for Water – 400,000 Steps
This Lent, CAFOD is inviting us to join their “Walk for Water” challenge – 10,000 steps a day, every day, for 40 days. Money raised will go towards changing the fact that one in three people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. If you would like to do this challenge as individual, then go to the CAFOD website and follow the instructions.
We would also like to set up a Parish Team for those who cannot manage to do this on their own, but would like to commit themselves to a smaller number of steps a day. If you would like to be part of the team, please contact Jane Trott on firstname.lastname@example.org with your details, to give Jane an idea of how many steps you think you could offer.
A Just Giving Page for the Parish Team effort has been set up and is open for donations. Amazingly, we are already over halfway to our target of £400, but we really need people to volunteer to share in reaching the number of daily steps!
Our Parish Choir Goes Virtual!
In an exciting initiative, some of our parish singing group are making individual recordings of hymns and songs which are then being skilfully combined by our parishioner and choir member, Rebecca Goldby. It is hoped that these will become a regular part of our Sunday Liturgy.
This week, Praise my soul, the King of Heaven will be played as the Entrance Hymn at 10.00am Mass at St James.
The next online Marriage Encounter experiences are: Marriage Encounter 20 & 21 March and Engaged Encounter 17 & 21 April. The details are now available at www.wwme.org.uk.
Father Kristian will make the February draw after the 6.00pm Mass on Saturday. A reminder that subs are due for some of you who pay monthly and annually. Cheques can be sent to the Parish Office. Please indicate that the cheque is for the 200 Club.
Important Notice for Parishioners from the EU
All EU citizens living in the UK are required by the government to apply through its Settlement Scheme to continue living, working and accessing services here. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021. Details and links can be found at www.gov.uk/eusettledstatus. Please bring this to the attention of friends, family members and fellow parishioners. The Catholic Church in England and Wales stands in solidarity with all European citizens who have made their homes here. You are a much valued part of our parishes, schools and communities.
Masses and Events this week
Saturday 13 February – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass) Pro Populo
Sunday 14 February – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Holy Mass at 10.00am Janusz Michalovski RIP (anniv)
- Holy Mass at 11.30am (St Boniface) Terry Hills RIP
Tuesday 16 February – Weekday
- Holy Mass at 10.00am
Wednesday 17 February – Ash Wednesday, Day of Fast & Abstinence
- Holy Mass at 10.00am
- Holy Mass at 12 Noon (St Boniface)
- Holy Mass at 6pm
Thursday 18 February – Lent Weekday
- Coffee Morning at 11.00am on Zoom
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 19 February – Lent Weekday
- Holy Mass at 12noon
Saturday 20 February – Lent Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)