Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus update Fifth Sunday of Lent - Passion Sunday

Dear Friends,

The Mass of this Sunday reminds us that Our Lord approached a terrible trial for all humanity. As we pass through our own trial in these times, let us unite ourselves with Him in all that he suffered for us.

Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against a nation that is faithless.
Introit from the Mass (Psalm 42)

A reminder that the public celebration of Mass is not possible at this time but I am offering the Holy Sacrifice each day in our little church for all your intentions. It was heartening to see that last Sunday we had a steady trickle of people visiting the Blessed Sacrament, though never more than two or three at any one time. Sadly, with the ramping up of precautions by the government since then, even this small solace will no longer be possible. Archbishop Malcolm, along with all the other bishops in the country, has ordered the complete closure of all churches in the Archdiocese, including for private visits. He writes:

Dear Father,
In light of the Prime Minister’s statement this evening that all places of worship are to close, I am requiring that all churches and chaplaincies in the archdiocese remain closed, with immediate effect, until further notice. Private Masses, streamed live, can continue. Concelebrated Masses should only take place with priests who live in the same household.  
Please continue to pray for all those in difficulty at this time, especially your parishioners. 
Then a further clarification:
Following the instruction that the Prime Minister gave last night, there has been an inconsistent message from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government regarding the opening of churches.  In the published guidelines, it states that “places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer.”   
The instruction is very clear on the occasions when someone can leave home: 
• Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible. 
• One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household. 
• Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 
• Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.   
None of these four specific reasons for leaving home concurs with the visiting of a church for solitary prayer.  In addition, keeping churches open could undermine the desire of the Government for people to remain at home, the very fact of them being open may draw people out of their homes, many of which would be the most vulnerable to infection. 

Your Mass intentions will still be offered as requested: this week for...
Sam and Margaret Duncan.  Patrick Donahue.  Kathleen Johnstone.   Leslie Kiss, Anniv.   Fr Gerald Dunn.  Deceased members and friends of the Lancashire Infirm Clergy Fund.  Veronica Neilson.
Your Prayers are asked for all the sick, including: Rita Sarbrick, Rosena Stacey, Vivienne Lee, Tom Miller, Paul Casey, Linda Melling, Tilly Gee, Kathleen Ward, Clare Butler, Maureen MacDonald, Louie Baines, Maureen O'Brien, Margaret McNiff, Elle Miller, Mark Duncan, Hild Gibbons, Bill Sutton, Barbara Fow, Mary Ann Monaghan, Bernard Lawson, Mick Marshall, Carol Parkinson, Margaret Cheston, Eric Neilson, Alan Cottam, Seámus McLoughlin.
We pray for those who are housebound & for those who love  & care for them.
O Mary conceived without sin - Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Some of you will have known Ann Clarke, the lady who lived in the first bungalow next to the side gate of the church. Sadly, she died this week after some time struggling with cancer. She was not a Catholic but a good neighbour to us. Her funeral is on Tuesday but in the present circumstances will not be a public event. Let us pray for the repose of her soul. Requiescat in pace.

As it is no longer possible to visit church, you may like to set up some form of home altar or prayer corner for you and your family. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish (though always take care if using candles at home) and can be a way of saying some formal prayers together without embarrassment with the family and for personal prayer. A statue, a crucifix, a prayer card, a bible or missal, some flowers - any of these would suffice. Here are a few examples - plain to elaborate...

If you feel it would help to follow Mass on television or on-line, in the week or on Sunday, then here are a few options for you:


You may also like to join in the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary this Sunday. We were one of the officially listed places where this would have been happening listed on the Walsingham website. You can watch a programme to explain this and find the short prayers to join in on Sunday - where everyone can personally re-dedicate themselves to Our Lady of Walsingham on the link below. Incidentally, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham is closely connected with the Our Lady of Ransom (with its origins in ransoming those taken into slavery by the Moors); a fitting title under which to pray for ransom from the epidemic now afflicting the whole world.


TODAY at 5pm Pope Francis will give an extraordinary "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing. This usually only happens at his election, and at Christmas and Easter. This is specifically for this time of worldwide crisis, so that we may feel cared for by teh uccessor of St Peter.  Unlike the sacraments, the grace of the blessing and the plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) expressly includes those watching it live through television and the internet. You can share in it on the live link below.

May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in whose power and authority we have confidence, intercede on our behalf to the Lord.

Through the prayers and merits of the Blessed Mary ever-virgin, of Blessed Michael the archangel, of Blessed John the Baptist, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, may almighty God have mercy on you, and with your sins forgiven, may Jesus Christ lead you into everlasting life.

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for a true and fruitful penance, an always repentant heart and amendment of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and final perseverance in good works.

And may the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, descend on you and remain with you always.

I will continue to put up items of interest on our Facebook page.  Please do follow us there. 
As well as your prayers, do keep in mind and set aside, as best you may be able in these times, your financial contribution to the parish each week. If you do not already do so but would like to, please email me if you would like to set up a direct debit.
Let us pray for one another and for a swift end to this scourge.
God keep you,
Fr Simon.

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