From Fr. Robert...

Fr. Robert shares his thoughts with us and rovides guidance in these challenging times. See below for:

  • Preparing for Lent
  • Sharing Reflections
  • Advent - Did you know?
  • Private prayer guide.
  • Prayer vigil Saturday 21st November 2020 4pm-5pm

30th January 2021 Preparing for Lent

Ash Wednesday 17th February 2021:

NOTE ON ASH WEDNESDAY Distribution of Ashes in Time of Pandemic

The distribution of ashes is to take place at the end of Mass The Priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes. He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. The Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one in silence.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 12 January 2021.     Robert Card. Sarah Prefect

Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary

In the Roman Rite since 1970, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday Evening (before the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper). This comprises a period of 44 days, the Lenten fast excludes Sundays which gives 40 days. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, & self-denial. The last week of Lent is Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. Following the New Testament story, Jesus' crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, & at the beginning of the next week the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday recalls the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days; this is known as one's Lenten sacrifice. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. We remove flowers from our altars during Lent, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event.

11th December 2020 Sharing Reflections

As we journey closer towards the great Feast of Christmas we look back on a very different year from normal. Everything that we took for granted stopped abruptly with the Prime Minister’s announcement that lockdown would be put into effect. The Churches would close along with everything else and the Easter Triduum would take place behind closed doors. Easter as a community was cancelled. Like most priests I celebrated the Triduum in the company of the angels. The normal community was absent so it was, to start with depressing. I had placed palm leaves down the main aisle, one to represent each parishioner. As the ceremonies unfolded, as I sang in a church absent of other people, it struck me just how keenly we need each other. Chanting the Exultet in the church with only the Paschal candle illuminating the darkness, perhaps for the best, as it is the one melody I cannot keep in my head, envisioning the angels covering their ears! The light of the Paschal candle suddenly reminded me of Calvary, Christ the one true light surrounded by enveloping darkness, but a darkness that could not and cannot extinguish that light. By Easter Sunday morning that light shone brightly again amongst the isolation because I knew in spirit we were still joined together in faith, hope and, hopefully, charity.

That charity has been stretched to near breaking point for many through the months of isolation and separation. For some the burden appears too heavy to carry. Things have been done and said, due to the unusual circumstances we have been living under, that normally would never enter our lives. I know I am no saint and my imperfections have pulled me down. The darkness has tried to envelop me and at times it seemed so easy to give in, to go with it. But that light, kindled at the Vigil, shines on, and without us realising, enters again, gives us the strength to carry on, to try and be tolerant, forgiving, and charitable.

We shall emerge from all of this and with God’s grace be stronger because if we have learned anything from this time of trial it is how much we need each other, to be close to each other, to be back to that stage before the virus struck. Even with its ups and downs, fraught by our imperfections we can see clearly that as a living community together we succeed, for alone we can only fail.

May Christmas, however it comes, be a time of joy and be grace filled. Let us implore the Lord to give us the strength we need to eventually draw a line under, forget and forgive the faults of the past year, to start anew, to have that courage to be like our heavenly Father who for all our faults and failings still reaches out the hand of forgiveness and love to each and every one of us.

28th November 2020: Advent  - did you know?...

Advent observances began sometime after the 4th century as a time of fasting and preparation for Epiphany, rather than in anticipation of Christmas. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Christ by remembering the visit of the wise men. At this time new Christians were baptized and received into the faith, and so the early church instituted a 40-day period of fasting and repentance. Later, in the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great was the first to associate this season of Advent with the coming of Christ. Originally it was not the coming of the Christ-child that was anticipated, but the Second Coming of Christ.

By the Middle Ages, four Sundays had become the standard length of the Advent season, with fasting and repentance during that time. The church also extended the meaning of Advent to include the coming of Christ through his birth in Bethlehem, his future coming at the end of time, and his presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit.

The advent candles and their colours are packed with rich meaning. Each represents a specific aspect of the spiritual preparations for Christmas. The three colours are purple, rose, and white. Purple symbolizes repentance and royalty & purple is also the liturgical colour at this time of year. Rose represents joy and rejoicing and white stands for purity and light. Each candle carries a specific name as well. The first purple candle is called the Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope. The second purple candle is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. The third (rose) candle is the Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy. The fourth candle, a purple one, is called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. And the last (white) candle is the Christ Candle.

In the Catholic Church, priests wear purple vestments during the season (just like they do during Lent), tho on Gaudete Sunday (third Sunday in Advent) Rose vestments can be worn. During this season of Advent the Gloria is not said and resumes at Christmas when traditionally the bells are rung at the Gloria.

Whatever Advent brings whether we gather together or not, we still undertake this journey together spiritually to culminate in the great feast of Christmas. Make it your fervent Advent prayer that we shall be able to gather together to celebrate the Saviours birth.

12th November 2020  Private Prayer - thoughts to help you. 

There is something about humbling ourselves in the presence of God, whether by genuflecting or kneeling. However, where those actions are not possible, bowing and then sitting down, or varying posture between kneeling and sitting should lead us to a level of comfort so that our posture does not become a hindrance to our prayer.

The Blessed Sacrament in the Monstrance enthroned upon the altar becomes the focus as we gaze upon Him; for another, eyes closed but knowing God’s Presence to be before you, is a way of concentrating; and for another the recitation of the Rosary or just to be silent in His presence. To come before the Lord in these ways is to find the balance between being in awe of the immensity of God our Master and talking to a friend.

The norm for Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is silent prayer.

It is always good to begin with a time of thanksgiving to God for blessings received from God or answers to prayer. Then, you can pray for the needs of others. Our prayer is often so much more focused when we look to the needs of others before our own.

You can then look to your own needs. Let this prayer be an opening of your heart to Christ, who in his humanity can listen to you and understand something of the human struggle and in his divinity can intercede with his Father and our Father for the needs you bring to this time of prayer. Throughout this time of prayer, you can either pray with familiar words (the Our Father; or a prayer to Jesus, e.g., Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you) or you can simply structure your prayer as a conversation with a friend, placing before the Lord all that is in your mind and heart.

Always try to conclude a time of prayer with some words of gratitude to the Lord and an expression of hope that you will meet the Lord again in prayer very soon.

Fr. Robert

Prayer Vigil 21st November  4-5 pm

The International Eucharistic Congress for 2020 has been postponed until next year. So Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest-Estergom has asked that all parishes have a Holy Hour on Saturday 21st November – the Vigil of the Solemnity of Christ the King.  He has asked that “in the current epidemiological situation…we can also join in from our homes with our personal prayers.  Let us take part in this common adoration, join with your parish, your community and your family.  Let this worldwide adoration be the next station of our preparation for the 52nd IEC in Budapest, and let us relive the regenerating love of God.”

Cardinal Nichols has asked that this be disseminated across our dioceses as a moment for the Church to pray for all those affected by the current pandemic in England and Wales. There is no set format for this, but all parishes and dioceses are asked to set aside some time on this date to have Adoration, to pray for the worldwide situation with Covid-19, and to enter into this preparation for the Eucharistic Congress next year.

Bishop Patrick and Fr Jonathan will be streaming an hour of Adoration from the Chapel in Bishop’s House from 4 - 5pm that afternoon and invite you to join them if this would be helpful to you. It can be found on the Bishop’s YouTube channel:  www.YouTube.com/bishoppatrickmckinney