Sunday, 28 June 2020

Feast of Ss Peter and Paul

Dear Friends,

On this great feast day, I remembered one of Pope Benedict's homilies speaking of the universality of both the human condition and of the Church. That we are Catholic reminds us - in it's very meaning - of universality. A timely reminder in these days when there has been so much emphasis on division between different types of peoples. In God's Church, every living person is equal (including the unborn) - in dignity and in their need for God's grace.


St Peter's Basilica. Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is at the same time a grateful memorial of the great witnesses of Jesus Christ and a solemn confession for the Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. It is first and foremost a feast of catholicity. The sign of Pentecost - the new community that speaks all languages and unites all peoples into one people, in one family of God -, this sign has become a reality. 

Strangers become friends; crossing every border, we recognize one another as brothers and sisters. This brings to fulfilment the mission of St Paul, who knew that he was the "minister of Christ Jesus among the Gentiles, with the priestly duty of preaching the Gospel of God so that the Gentiles might be offered up as a pleasing sacrifice, consecrated by the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15: 16).

The purpose of the mission is that humanity itself becomes a living glorification of God, the true worship that God expects: this is the deepest meaning of catholicity - a catholicity that has already been given to us, towards which we must constantly start out again. Catholicity does not only express a horizontal dimension, the gathering of many people in unity, but also a vertical dimension: it is only by raising our eyes to God, by opening ourselves to him, that we can truly become one.

Like Paul, Peter also came to Rome, to the city that was a centre where all the nations converged and, for this very reason, could become, before any other, the expression of the universal outreach of the Gospel. As he started out on his journey from Jerusalem to Rome, he must certainly have felt guided by the voices of the prophets, by faith and by the prayer of Israel.

The mission to the whole world is also part of the proclamation of the Old Covenant: the people of Israel were destined to be a light for the Gentiles. The great Psalm of the Passion, Psalm 22[21], whose first verse Jesus cried out on the Cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", ends with the vision: "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of the nations shall bow down before him" (Ps 22[21]: 28). When Peter and Paul came to Rome, the Lord on the Cross who had uttered the first line of that Psalm was risen; God's victory now had to be proclaimed to all the nations, thereby fulfilling the promise with which the Psalm concludes.

Catholicity means universality - a multiplicity that becomes unity; a unity that nevertheless remains multiplicity. From Paul's words on the Church's universality we have already seen that the ability of nations to get the better of themselves in order to look towards the one God, is part of this unity. In the second century, the founder of Catholic theology, St Irenaeus of Lyons, described very beautifully this bond between catholicity and unity and I quote him. He says: "The Church spread across the world diligently safeguards this doctrine and this faith, forming as it were one family: the same faith, with one mind and one heart, the same preaching, teaching and tradition as if she had but one mouth. Languages abound according to the region but the power of our tradition is one and the same. The Churches in Germany do not differ in faith or tradition, neither do those in Spain, Gaul, Egypt, Libya, the Orient, the centre of the earth; just as the sun, God's creature, is one alone and identical throughout the world, so the light of true preaching shines everywhere and illuminates all who desire to attain knowledge of the truth" (Adv. Haer. I 10, 2). The unity of men and women in their multiplicity has become possible because God, this one God of heaven and earth, has shown himself to us; because the essential truth about our lives, our "where from?" and "where to?" became visible when he revealed himself to us and enabled us to see his face, himself, in Jesus Christ. This truth about the essence of our being, living and dying, a truth that God made visible, unites us and makes us brothers and sisters. Catholicity and unity go hand in hand. And unity has a content: the faith that the Apostles passed on to us in Christ's name.

We have said that the catholicity of the Church and the unity of the Church go together. The fact that both dimensions become visible to us in the figures of the holy Apostles already shows us the consequent characteristic of the Church: she is apostolic. What does this mean?

The Lord established Twelve Apostles just as the sons of Jacob were 12. By so doing he was presenting them as leaders of the People of God which, henceforth universal, from that time has included all the peoples. St Mark tells us that Jesus called the Apostles so "to be with him, and to be sent out" (Mk 3: 14). This seems almost a contradiction in terms. We would say: "Either they stayed with him or they were sent forth and set out on their travels". Pope St Gregory the Great says a word about angels that helps us resolve this contradiction. He says that angels are always sent out and at the same time are always in God's presence, and continues, "Wherever they are sent, wherever they go, they always journey on in God's heart" (Homily, 34, 13). The Book of Revelation described Bishops as "angels" in their Church, so we can state: the Apostles and their successors must always be with the Lord and precisely in this way - wherever they may go - they must always be in communion with him and live by this communion.

The Church is apostolic, because she professes the faith of the Apostles and attempts to live it. There is a unity that marks the Twelve called by the Lord, but there is also continuity in the apostolic mission. St Peter, in his First Letter, described himself as "a fellow elder" of the presbyters to whom he writes (5: 1). And with this he expressed the principle of apostolic succession: the same ministry which he had received from the Lord now continues in the Church through priestly ordination. The Word of God is not only written but, thanks to the testimonies that the Lord in the sacrament has inscribed in the apostolic ministry, it remains a living word. 

Today's Gospel tells of the profession of faith of St Peter, on whom the Church was founded: "You are the Messiah... the Son of the living God" (Mt 16: 16). Having spoken today of the Church as one, catholic and apostolic but not yet of the Church as holy, let us now recall another profession of Peter, his response on behalf of the Twelve at the moment when so many abandoned Christ: "We have come to believe; we are convinced that you are God's holy one" (Jn 6: 69). What does this mean?

Jesus, in his great priestly prayer, says that he is consecrating himself for his disciples, an allusion to the sacrifice of his death (cf. Jn 17: 19). By saying this, Jesus implicitly expresses his role as the true High Priest who brings about the mystery of the "Day of Reconciliation", no longer only in substitutive rites but in the concrete substance of his own Body and Blood. The Old Testament term "the Holy One of the Lord" identified Aaron as the High Priest who had the task of bringing about Israel's sanctification (Ps 106[105]: 16; Vulgate: Sir 45: 6). Peter's profession of Christ, whom he declares to be the Holy One of God, fits into the context of the Eucharistic Discourse in which Jesus announces the Day of Reconciliation through the sacrificial offering of himself: "the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world" (Jn 6: 51). So this profession is the background of the priestly mystery of Jesus, his sacrifice for us all. The Church is not holy by herself; in fact, she is made up of sinners - we all know this and it is plain for all to see. Rather, she is made holy ever anew by the Holy One of God, by the purifying love of Christ. God did not only speak, but loved us very realistically; he loved us to the point of the death of his own Son. It is precisely here that we are shown the full grandeur of revelation that has, as it were, inflicted the wounds in the heart of God himself. Then each one of us can say personally, together with St Paul, I live "a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2: 20).

Let us pray to the Lord that the truth of these words may be deeply impressed in our hearts, together with his joy and with his responsibility.



At the moment, it looks likely that we will be able to resume the public celebration of Mass once again from Sunday 12th July. HOWEVER, the Archdiocese are very detailed and proscriptive. In all likelihood, not all churches will be able to accomplish this because of their physical limitations or because the parish priest in in a group that still needs to shelter. The area Dean is to inspect all churches before they may be allowed to open.

All that being said, I hope that we may be able to open for Mass from the earliest possible date. Whenever that happens, we will certainly need volunteers to assist with the process of making the church compliable with the Covid 19 rules. Firstly, we will definitely need volunteers to sanitize benches and doorhandles etc after each Mass. If you feel you can do this, then please contact me, by email if possible, so we can put a team together for after each Mass. People from vulnerable groups are obviously not able to be among these volunteers.

Other distancing measures will be in place and circulating in the church as well as entering and exiting will be under special directions. Here are some of the rules:


• The vulnerable should carefully consider the wisdom of returning to Mass too soon. They are not
obliged to do so. The Sunday obligation has not been re-instated.

• Those who are able might be encouraged to gather on a weekday rather than a Saturday evening or
Sunday, to release the pressure on weekend Masses.

• Social distancing guidelines are still in force.

• Every 2nd row must be closed off.

• Church doors and windows should be left open.

• Volunteer stewards are required to be on hand to direct hand sanitising on arriving and leaving, to
direct people to benches and to encourage worshippers to maintain reasonable social distancing.

• Votive candles may be lit (but only from a lit candle.)

• Single use newsletters, Mass sheets, or other papers may be used but must be taken home.

• Only the priest should be on the sanctuary – without deacons, servers, readers etc. 

• There will be no Sign of Peace.

• There will be no singing.

• There should be no handshakes or hugs etc. after services.

• Collections should be in a basket on the way in and the way out.

• Lingering clusters of conversation in the porch or outside the church are to be avoided.

• Volunteers are required to sanitise bench surfaces and doors etc. after each Mass. That may mean
the number of Masses needs to reduced.

• To avoid volunteers having to sanitise toilets after each individual use, they must remain closed and
only be used in a genuine emergency.

• People coming to Church will have to wear a facemask.

HOLY COMMUNION is not allowed to be distributed during Mass.

It is suggested it may be done after Mass, allowing those who do not wish to receive (for whatever reasons) to leave and for those remaining to then receive Holy Communion. From what I can understand of the regulations deemed necessary for this, I think it will not be possible at this time for us to carry these out at St Catherine's. I will try to understand the rigorous instructions more clearly and seek advice before then. We have a Deanery meeting on Zoom scheduled for later this week.

You may read an initial letter from the Metropolitan Archbishop's of England and Wales HERE.


Until then, a reminder that although our own church cannot yet open, there are churches nearby you can  visit for private prayer.

St Mary's, Leyland and St Teresa's, Penwortham are open for private prayer at set times.

St Mary's: The Church will be open from 11.30–12.30 on two days a week: Sundays and Wednesdays. 
Please note that if you wish you can wear a mask and gloves provided by the Church. Everyone will have their temperature checked, if it is high, they will be turned away. Those who are at ‘clinical risk’ of Covid-19 or have been advised to shield should not visit Church. Please do not visit the Church if you or someone in your house has a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell. People in that situation must stay at home and contact your GP or NHS 111 for further advice. There will be no toilets available, no candles, no literature.

St Teresa's Church, Penwortham: 
Tuesdays from 11.00am till 1.00pm 
Thursdays from 11.00am till 1.00pm 
Sundays from 11.00am till 1.00pm  
also in line with the diocesan guidelines, as above.

And nearby, St Mary's in Chorley will be open Monday to Saturday for private prayer between 11am and 1pm.


Your Mass intentions will still be offered as requested and you may continue to send them in.  Mass is offered for all who live in the parish and for all our intentions.

The people of the Parish
William Moody
Patrick McGivern, RIP
John McKenna, RIP
Arthur Bird, RIP
Special Intention
Marie Wood, RIP

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 and for those who love  and care for them. 
O Mary conceived without sin - Pray for us who have recourse to thee.


If you would like to pray through the Mass online or via TV here are some links below. Some people find it a way of preparing in some fitting way to make a Spiritual Communion in these times when the actual Mass is not available:

If you have access to Facebook, the beautiful little church of Corpus Christi on Maiden Lane in London has Mass each day. 

Also on Facebook, the Canons at St Walburge's in Preston stream many Masses and Devotions:

If you have Sky TV or you can also access EWTN at:
With many other programmes that you might find useful.

The Oratorians at Cardiff:
The Fathers of the Fraternity of St Peter also stream their Masses and devotions from Warrington St Mary's at: 

You can even join in Mass live from Westminster Cathedral:


Please do continue to keep in touch via our Parish Facebook page and my blog. I continue to be in touch with parishioners via phone calls and emails.

May I ask that, if you are able, please continue to put aside your weekly offering each Sunday and bring it with you when things return to some normality. If you would like a Standing Order form, please contact me. 

You may also use the Archdiocesan website to contribute to the parish online by going to:
God keep you,

Fr Simon.

No comments: