|Letter from Fr Mark McManus 13th February|
|Dear Parishioners of St Joseph's & St Charles,|
|Our public Masses this coming week at St Joseph's church should be:
Saturday, 13 February, at 5.00pm &
Sunday, 14 February, at 9.00am & 10.00am
Tuesday, 16 February, at 10.00am &
Ash Wednesday, 17 February, at 10.00am
Ash WednesdayCardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued the following instruction 12 January 2021:
Distribution of Ashes in Time of Pandemic
'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 without saying anything.'
Bishop Heskett has informed us that our own Bishops' Conference has suggested that this manner of distributing the ashes should take place outside, as the people leave church after Mass. Accordingly, we shall follow this form at our 10.00am Mass on Ash Wednesday, 17 February.
Attending churchThere is a clear message that we should 'Stay at Home' and do everything to minimise contacts outside our household. In general, this seems to be being observed and it is noticeable that our congregations have been smaller in number - though this might be due, despite the heating, to it being cold in church! Either way, we give thanks to all those who keep the light of faith alight at home or in church and we pray we may continue to operate in safety and give witness to the world.
H.M. Government Guidance for Places of Worship states that 'You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship.' So, if we do decide to go to Mass, we must take our privilege to meet responsibly and observe that we 'not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble if you do attend.'
Please remember that there is no obligation to attend the public celebration of Mass at present and that you can make a spiritual offering of your own self-denial. Let us remain vigilant and do all that we can to respect the health and safety of each other. If you are in the shielding category please follow guidance from the NHS.
Some churches, even here in Sheffield, have taken the decision to temporarily close - playing their part in relieving pressure on the NHS - but I hope we are able to remain open while we can.
We have to leave the doors open to ensure adequate ventilation. It will be cold in church, so wrap up warm.
FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED IN CHURCH
UNLESS YOU HAVE AN EXEMPTION THIS IS NOW LAW
For those who have been vaccinated please remember that this does not provide immunity from the COVID Virus but in the majority of cases does prevent severe symptoms developing.
You MUST NOT come to church if: You are unwell or somebody in your household has coronavirus symptoms, for example a cough or high temperature. Please follow the directions of the stewards.
Some Intentions for PrayerHere are some intercessions that you may wish to use in your personal or family prayer.
LentThe observance of Lent by forty days of fasting and almsgiving, prayer and penitence is related to the celebration of Easter. In the first three centuries of the Christian era, most Christians prepared for Easter by fasting and praying for three days. In some places this was extended to the entire week before Easter (now known as Holy Week). There is evidence that in Rome, the length of preparation was three weeks.
The word derives from the Middle English word lenten, meaning springtime - the time of lengthening days. There is biblical support for doing penance, but the season of Lent, like all our liturgical seasons, developed over time. In its early three-week form, Lent was the period of intense spiritual and liturgical preparation for catechumens before they were baptised at Easter. Many members of the community imitated this time of preparation with the catechumens. By the fourth century (when Christianity became legal) Lent had developed into its current length of forty days, the length of the fast and temptation of Jesus in the desert. Gradually, as most people were baptised as infants the connection to the preparation of catechumens declined and the themes of repentance and fasting became dominant.
Throughout our history, Christians have found prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to be an important part of repentance and renewal. Many Catholics also now add something during Lent rather than just giving up something, either to address personal habits (Vices) that need work or to add some outreach to others in need. However we observe Lent a greater habit (Virtue) of prayer must be at its heart.
Here is a form of the Stations of the Cross that you may wish to use during Lent.
Lenten AlmsI know that some of you during Lent will make donations to various charitable causes. Here are the various second collections and other causes that we would normally have supported during the period January to Easter. You should feel under no obligation but, if you are able, and you would wish to make a donation to one or more of them, then I merely offer them for your consideration.
Diocesan Second Collections & other Charitable Giving
First Holy Communion 2020 & 2021The 2020 Class: Thankfully, some preparation was undertaken before the pandemic began and our catechist Louise will be in touch with last year's group to establish what 'refreshers' and possible conclusion to preparation are required. I am mindful of a child's spiritual right to receive the Sacrament and, to avoid undue delay, to offer First Holy Communion on an individual basis at any Mass in the forthcoming months - though I am still hopeful we might yet manage something more communal around May.
The 2021 Class: Clearly preparation is going to be a challenge and I cannot yet offer a firm date for an actual celebration. To begin with we need to assess our numbers and so I invite parents of this year's Year 3 children (and above) who wish to make their First Holy Communion this year at St Joseph's or St Charles to e-mail me and I will send them a registration form. Given the difficulties of attending Mass, I cannot stress enough the need for families to engage in the process of preparing their child for this most Blessed Sacrament. I thank you all for your patience and understanding.
Church Cleaning & StewardingThe continuing work of our voluntary church cleaners and stewards remains the bedrock of our ability to open and use our church. Without them the church would be closed and we are immensely thankful for all that they do. If you have returned to church, have seen how things are done, and now feel ready and able to volunteer then please contact me. More hands help spread the load. Thank you.
Weekly Offertory EnvelopesAn order for offertory envelopes for 2021 is due to be placed at the beginning of January. However, during lockdown, a number of you who generally use envelopes have kindly made your donation by bank transfer instead. You may now wish to continue making an offering this way once we return to more 'normal' times. If you decide that you no longer want to use an envelope please advise us by the end of the year so that our order can be amended. If you are a tax payer and have signed a declaration your offering will still be recorded for gift aid purposes regardless of which method you use to donate.
Car ParkingDrivers should note that the logs that previously marked part of the border of the presbytery lawn have been replaced with stones. Do feel free to use the available parking space at the church but do be aware of the need to socially distance upon entering and exiting your car.
Track & Trace App & QR CodeWe shall continue to record the names and contact details for people attending the church for private prayer. We now display at the entrance to the church and also inside a QR code so that, if you have a smartphone, you can scan the QR code when you arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. This is to help trace and stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Finally, this week's newsletter is here.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
St Joseph, pray for us.
St Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
With my prayers,
Rev. Mark McManus