Masses suspended until further notice
Homily by Fr Hugh on the Raising of Lazarus (Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14, Romans 8:8-11, John 11:1-45)
Shortly before we had to shut the church this week, a young man brought a homeless woman inside and rang for help. He had found her in distress in the street. She clearly had some mental health problems and it was not easy to help. We spent a couple of hours with her and in the end put her up in a local hotel, accepting that this was no answer to her problem and the next day she would be in the same position, which she realised too. Agencies are all working from home, which makes absolute sense, and even if they were not, it would be hard to help. But some people will always suffer more in the kind of conditions we are living in at the moment.
The central figure, besides Jesus, in this Sunday’s gospel is Martha. I wish we had had a Martha with us at the time. I have a feeling she would have given her a, now virtual, hug and said, “Come on, love, I am sure we can sort this out,” and come up with some very practical advice.
Adapted from a prayer for the current pandemic by Bishop Douglas J. Lucia Bishop of Diocese of Syracuse, New York
O Mary, full of grace, Patroness of our nation and Mother of the Church, in this time of illness and worldwide need we seek your intercession for the human family before your Son’s throne of grace and mercy. We ask for strength in adversity, health in weakness, and comfort in sorrow.
Help us, O Blessed Mother. Contine to watch over all who are sick as well as those who care for them and give wisdom to all who are seeking a cure. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Livestreaming from the Oratory: Starting next week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8pm – 8:30pm we will livestream a time of prayer and adoration from the Oratory on this website. To watch the livestream go to Click Here for Oratory Livestream at the top of this website. We will begin with the short evening prayer and end with the night prayer which you can download on the link below. There are also printed copies of these prayers at the back door of the Presbytery. Please join in if you wish, so we can pray together for all that this current crisis entails. (We hope to livestream the Mass soon.)
Message from Fr Hugh on the Feast of the Annunciation.
It’s quite hard to keep our minds on the ordinary run of things at this time, and possibly the fact that we are now into the 4th Week of Lent.
Today is the great feast of the Annunciation. The gospel is the story of the annunciation from Luke’s gospel as you would expect. (Luke 1:26-38.)
Looking for directions one day in Israel, I knocked on a door in the small village of Nain and it was opened by a teenage girl in simple local dress, the house sparsely furnished. I immediately thought, this is just the sort of house the angel Gabriel would have appeared at. Poor, tucked away, of no significance to the world at large. Yet here it is that God chooses to introduce his Son to the world. Here it is that a young woman of no education has the courage to respond to God’s request with great faith in the future.
That same Spirit that overshadowed Mary bringing Christ into the world, is with us in this time. Mary could not see the Spirit, but she had faith (admittedly she did have an angel to help but he would have liked like an ordinary person, no wings!) We need to have faith in the future in the same way, with Mary’s courage, as we too cannot see the future, but God’s Spirit is with us and we have to trust. Our trust, our peace, enables others to see Jesus.
I hope you are keeping well and not getting too nervous. Don’t hesitate to ring if you want a chat (720063). It is also good to focus on non-coronavirus matters too to try to give us a bit of balance. This week the gospels are taking us through John Chapter 5 and then 7.
If you would like to be part of one of the contact groups around the parish and are not yet, please let us know.
A good site is Kendal self-isolating Group on Facebook. See also on this Big Home Adventure for children.
Some CAFOD resources for children:
Please keep Gerard Griffin in your prayers who died this morning.
This must be one of the strangest Mothers’ Days we will ever have. Nevertheless, happy Mothers’ Day to you all. (My mother’s home sent us a picture of her holding a Mothers’ Day card, which was very nice of them.) I’m thinking especially of those mothers who, however much they love them, may find being isolated with the family quite a challenge. Of course some mothers, and fathers, are on their own with the children too.
So patience is going to be needed on all sides, but that is easier said than found at times. Today is the Sabbath, literally a time to cease in Hebrew, and we need to find that time especially now. How is it possible to carve out a little quiet time when we are all inside together? I can imagine you saying, “Well, he is sat alone in a large house, it’s all right for him,” and that is true. But is it possible, early or late in the day, when others are in bed perhaps, to find a little time, make a little time of quiet? A time to listen to each other, to listen to God? Perhaps only a few minutes, just a short pause in the day. It is never time wasted.
They say the phrase, “Do not be afraid,” occurs 365 times in the Bible. At this time we can feel openly afraid or it can be a sense of underlying uncertainty. When God speaks to us through word of God this is one of the phrases he uses most often. Now is the time to trust in Him, and in his Word, especially if we are being strong for others but not perhaps feeling so strong in ourselves.
I said Mass early today and prayed for us all; let’s keep that network of prayer going. God bless, Fr. Hugh
Homily by Fr Hugh on The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41)
Blind from birth. What would it be like? All your other senses might compensate but still, it is hard to be without one of your senses. Perhaps your imagination had painted a picture of the world around you. Your own version. Although we know people without sight can live perfectly well in the world, yet to suddenly see would be a transforming moment. So many emotions, so many new experiences. How did your old picture match seeing reality? For John the evangelist, though we would not use this image today, it is a move from darkness to light. Both physically, and more importantly for him, spiritually. It is a healing, a making whole, a restoration of ‘shalom,’ the peace that means so much more to the Jews, a wholeness. The presence of Jesus, the encounter with the ‘Light of the World’ has illuminated the man’s soul as well as his eyes.
A prayer for a pandemic By Columban Fr. John Comiskey
The Lord, Jesus brought healing during His ministry on earth. He healed the sick and brought the dead to life. By His own death and resurrection He brings the promise, hope and means of healing to us all.
Now we need His healing more than ever. We need not only the healing from physical illness brought on by the COVID-19 virus but healing for human hearts, communities and world society.
Open our hearts that we may not turn in on ourselves and our own needs. Let unity, compassion and care mark us all. Inspire us to serve the poor and abandoned.
May we use our skills in service of others. May more fortunate countries come to the aid of those less prosperous. May we be concerned less about public image but more about doing the right thing. “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples: if you love one another.” Amen.
BBC Radio Cumbria Ecumenical Service at 8am on Sunday 22nd March – Fr Hugh is a Reader
All Masses have been suspended from Friday until further notice, this includes funeral Masses but not services at the graveside or crematorium. Friday 12.15pm Mass (20th March) will be our last.
We are working on live streaming Sunday Mass to our website and we will post further information to our website when this becomes available.
The church will be open as usual from 7.30am – 6.00pm (or thereabouts) each day. There are prayers as you come in and sheets for Stations of the Cross. Do come in and pray.
There will be a bulletin emailed to you, posted on the website and available to collect at the back of church each week. If you have not already signed up to receive these then please sign up on our website if you wish.
You can still email us with things for the bulletin. (These might be helpful ideas about the current situation and what we can do.)
Please let me know if you are self-isolating, if you wish to. We have set up some groups round the parish and could link you into one of these to keep contact with you. Please keep an eye out for those who may be alone.
Do not hesitate to ring the presbytery or call round. Leave a message if no one is in.
Prayer is very important at this time. It is in prayer and in the presence of Christ in our community as the body of Christ that binds us together whether we can physically get together or not. We are never alone when Christ is present with us.
“In a Christian Community everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable…Every Christian community must realise that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the ‘serious reason’ why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take here:
Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
‘The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want.’
May God bless us all.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
President of the Bishops’ Conference
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference
I will remove the heart of stone from you… and give you a heart of flesh. Today we hear the wonderful account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan Woman by a well. Jesus says something to her that allows Him to change her life. She was transformed because He was concerned about her. He wanted her to be the best person she could be. He told her that she could do it, and she heard His message. That is why we do penance during Lent, and why we make special effort to go to confession. We know that Jesus loves us and that He cares for each of us individually. Yes, He sees the bumps and bruises of our lives, He doesn’t condone our sins – be they big or little – but He wants us to be better and His love always transforms us. Like the woman in today’s gospel reading we need to have an experience of His healing love. Jesus makes us want to be better and His love for us gives us the courage to change our lives and so embrace the new life He offers. The blood that poured from His wounds on the Cross has ignited our minds and hearts with the fire of His Love: may His love consume us and make us new.
In light of the Coranavirus we have been advised by the Diocese to cancel all communal social gatherings until further notice so this will affect Thursday Club, Tea and Coffee after 10am Mass, Lent Soup. Please keep in touch with those you usually meet at these events especially those who might be more vulnerable in the current circumstances.
The collection plates will now be at the back of church where you can leave your weekly offertory if you wish to do so. Thank you for your cooperation.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS continues to be prayed on each Friday of Lent at 11.30 am in the Church. Please join us.
Fulfiller of the past, promise of things to be….We hail Your body glorified and our redemption see! Jesus, as the Man of Faith, trusted completely in His Father’s plan for mankind with the faith of a human being who recognised His dependence on God. This is the same sort of faith we are invited to live. He believed the scriptures; that the Messiah would suffer, die and rise again. The mysterious meeting on the mountain with Moses and Elijah strengthened Jesus’ resolve to let God’s plan take effect in and through Him. Moses represented the Law. Elijah represented the Prophets. Jesus was the fulfilment of them both. Jesus would trust God to allow His Plan to be accomplished; and He would not let His disciples say anything about the vision until He had risen from the dead. We cannot come to any sort of understanding of Easter Sunday unless we first experience Good Friday. As we continue our Lenten journey let us ask Jesus for the courage to trust in God more deeply. Then we will fully know ourselves as we are fully known by God. If we trust in God, He will work in wonderful and mysterious ways through us.
DECREE FROM THE BISHOP OF LANCASTER TO REDUCE RISKS OF COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS TRANSMISSION:
The following pastoral measures will be effective from 5th – 21st March 2020:
1. The Sign of Peace is to be suspended at Mass.
2. Holy Communion from the chalice shall cease to be offered to the lay faithful.
3. Those who choose to receive the Sacred Host on the tongue are encouraged to receive on the hand instead. Doing so represents an act of loving charity to your community.
4. Use of holy water stoups is to be suspended.
5. Shared hymn books and Mass books should ideally not be used at this time (we are working on this – Fr Hugh)
Then if Satan on us press…Grant we may not faint nor fall! We are all tempted to sin. It is part of life. But we can fight against it. We can defeat it. In some ways we all experience each of the temptations that the devil put before Jesus. The devil wanted Jesus to trust in His own power, rather than that of the Father. He wanted Him to change rocks into bread. We can be tempted to trust in ourselves instead of trusting in God. He tempted Jesus to jump from the Temple parapet. We are tempted to force God into action instead of simply trusting in Him to care for us. We cannot fall because of the temptation to think we can do everything ourselves. We must trust in God. We must need to have faith. Of course, we must do our best to provide for our future and that of our loved ones, but ultimately, we rely on the Lord to take care of us. We can resist the temptation to push God out of our lives. This call to faith is not easy. We ask the Lord today to protect us from the temptations of the world: Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
CAFOD Lent Family Fast Day on Friday 6 March is the 60th anniversary of the first Family Fast Day led by our founding mothers and, as it has been for sixty years, is an opportunity to reach out and support highly-skilled local experts around the world who help the poorest members of our global family. Please collect your Family Fast Day envelope this week and give whatever you can to help experts like Sister Consilia – a nun and trained pharmacist who treats people in rural Zimbabwe – continue their vital work. Thank you
THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS will be prayed on each Friday of Lent at 11.30 am in the Church. Please join us.
Temptation Image by: Wolfgang Sauber / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!
Today’s Gospel is from the powerful Sermon on the Mount and Jesus calls on us to look inside ourselves. If we allow hateful thoughts to overtake us, we cannot be people of peace. If we nurture memories of the times that we were hurt and convince ourselves that we have a right to vengeance, our lives will be in continual turmoil. Jesus tells us to adopt a new way of thinking and living, a way that is radically opposed to the way of the world. He tells us to turn the other cheek: that’s hard. He tells us to love our enemies: that’s harder still. He tells us to be pleasant with those who attack us, to live in peace with all, even those who hate us. Others may or may not change their ways, but we cannot allow their actions to change us. We cannot allow others to steal the joy we have in being united to Jesus. We need to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect; perhaps perfect might be better translated wholesome or sincere. If we do our best to be wholesome on the inside, our lives will be full of the Joy of the Lord.
Wednesday 26th February is Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence and the first day of Lent. The distribution of ashes will be celebrated in church at 12.15pm & 7pm. There will also be Mass in school at 9.15 am.