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From Father Michael

FROM FATHER MICHAEL

We are certainly living in bewildering and surreal times! Charles Dickens said, in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’,  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

So many things are happening, that we are alarmed, apprehensive and anxious to say the least.   Yet in the middle of all of this, goodness of heart, gentleness and thoughtfulness is blooming around us and that is a sign of hope in these most trying and difficult times! We continue to applaud the wonderful work of our NHS workers, who give of themselves so sacrificially. The Risen Lord continues to work in and through his people.

We also owe such a debt of gratitude, if not our lives, to those who in the past have often been overlooked in society, the stockers of supermarket shelves, delivery people, farm and food workers, cleaners of public spaces and many others. The novel coronavirus has cast the mighty from their offices and lifted-up the dignity and irreplaceability of those society often thought were lowly. Perhaps this is truly a Magnificat moment. In more ways than we could have imagined, our present crisis has revealed what is essential in our lives. Our confinement and anxiety have also revealed how much of what we thought was essential to our well-being is actually secondary, or even detrimental.

I wonder how this this new view of the essentials will affect the church and society after lock-down? The experience of COVID-19 has heightened the consciousness and reawakened the conscience of the church to the fragile, incarnate reality of human life. The church, like the whole world, has also been reminded by our experience of social distancing that human life can only be fully human when lived in solidarity and community with others. This is at the heart of our Catholic Trinitarian Faith.

Like many of you, I have been told to ‘shield’ and that brings with it many challenges as we live in isolation. I am very thankful at this time that God created Labradors!  I continue to remember you in my prayers at the altar and look forward to being able to gather again as a parish community for the celebration of Mass when it is safe to do so. Please remember to check the Parish Bulletin which is available on our parish web site each week for the latest news and updates. I continue to be available on the telephone should you need any assistance.

With prayers and blessings this Eastertide

Father Michael

Easter Message from Fr Michael

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St Patrick’s

This has been for us all perhaps one of most surreal of Lenten Journeys. Celebrating the Liturgy of the Triduum over three days, alone in an empty Church, is strange indeed. It is just as strange to be watching the celebration of the Great Holy Week of Christians unfold on our TV’s and computer screens.

Sometimes it feels that isolation saps our very humanity: grandparents  are isolated from their grandchildren, elderly parents from their children, lovers separated from one other. Yet people have rallied to keep channels of communication and love open. People shop for those who cannot leave the house, ensure that medication is delivered. People continue to send ecards, texts and make the phone call that can be life giving when isolated. A parishioner left  gifts including fresh bread and wine on the door step of the presbytery. What a wonderful gift for Holy Thursday! Small gestures can speak of profound belonging.

Though the pandemic had closed our churches and prevented us from gathering for Mass, the community will bounce back, recovering from our long Eucharistic fast. Pray God that we will bounce back stronger, more united, more idealistic – if we learn the lessons. With thanksgiving we rejoice this Easter in the countless acts of selfless service we’ve witnessed in recent days from health workers, neighbours, families and our church family. Think of the novel pastoral responses to this novel coronavirus. In times like these people of faith and ideals really shine.

After Good Friday comes Easter, after the tomb new life. There can never be resurrection without first standing at the foot of the cross and passing through death. This is for us both our Passover and Feast. We know this to be central to our faith as Christians. Yet this year has brought this into very stark relief indeed.

On Holy Saturday night, the new Paschal Candle is usually  lit  from a blazing fire which lights up the night sky and carried into the darkened Church  with songs of “The Light of Christ. Thanks be to God”. This is a vibrant symbol of the risen Christ, our light returned and hope restored. Tonight there will be no congregation to light their own candles from the great Paschal Candle and no procession. Yet this vibrant symbol that Christ has conquered death will still be lit in St Patrick’s Church this evening. That darkness will still be pierced. Pray God, that we will continue to demonstrate that Easter light in our works of mercy and prayer, as we show our love and concern for others as we continue through Eastertide.

Yes, this will be for us an unprecedented celebration of Easter in modern times. Yet the light and life of Christ has conquered fear and death. The risen Christ continues daily to speak those Easter words to us, “Do not be afraid”. We must hold fast as an Easter People to the reality of Our Lord’s Resurrection in our lives today, rejoicing that he is truly risen.

May God bless you, your homes and loved ones in this strange but holy time.

With Easter blessings

Fr Michael

Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

A message from Fr Michael

 

Many of us will have joined in the applause last Thursday evening for Doctors, Nurses, Carers and Staff in the NHS who are on the front line. It brought a sense community to all of us and many shed a tear, I’m sure.  It showed our need to be connected and our appreciation for the NHS staff. We have come to value our family, friends and our parish community in a new way. We are not able to gather for the Sunday Eucharist, however, we still very much belong together. Celebrating Sunday Mass in St Patrick’s last Sunday without a congregation seemed quite surreal and strange, yet the Mass continues to be offered for the people of the Parish and for all at this time. You are all very much in my prayers each day at the altar. If you wish Mass to be offered for a particular intention, this is still possible, just email me or call.

Let’s continue to pray to renew our faith in God particularly as we enter the great Holy Week of Christians. The Lord will see us through this time as we cooperate with His grace. Let us keep praying for courage and calm, for the health of all of God’s people and for a responsible cure and vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic. As we get through this together, by God’s grace, we pray that individuals and families become more aware of what really matters in life: our faith, families and friends, living in faith, hope and love in our love for God and neighbour. I have been very impressed with the incredible depth of practical love and concern demonstrated by so many people for the vulnerable, the sick and the lonely. The church building may be closed at this time, but the mission of the Parish is very much open. If you are in practical or spiritual need, please do not hesitate to pick up the telephone. We will respond in any way we can. If you simply need a chat, I’m at the end of the phone, please do call or leave a message.

Please continue to look to keep up to date by viewing the parish website for news and spiritual help. Although our Church is sadly closed for the foreseeable future and we must practice social distancing, we will never practice spiritual distancing in our love for God and neighbour.

Keep safe and I assure you all of my prayers.

With blessings, Fr Michael.

Rededication of England to Mary – This Sunday 29th March

You are invited to take part in this rededication from home. It is an incredible opportunity for us to join together in prayer during this  temporary time away from our parish community. During this time of fear and anxiety it is of greatest importance for us to place ourselves under the protection and guidance of Christ through Mary, Our Mother. Prayers and further details can be found on line at www.behold.com.

Walsingham, the National Shrine of Our Lady, ‘England’s Nazareth’ will focus on the Rededication on Sunday. The Rededication Prayers will follow the Homily during the midday Mass livestreamed from the Shrine on Sunday 29th March. You can download the Angelus Promise and Act of Entrustment and then join the livestream at www.walsingham.org.uk/livestream. The shrine is also streaming daily Mass at 9.30am (English) & 6pm (Latin). The livestream also offers the Rosary, Adoration, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline.  

The photograph is an image  of Our Lady of Walsingham set up in St Patrick’s Church on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in readiness for the Act of Rededication which will be made by Father Michael in our Church as he celebrates Mass for the parish privately on Sunday. Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

 

Watch Mass each day at home

At this time when we cannot gather for the Eucharist you may like to watch Mass on Sundays and Weekdays from home and make a Spiritual Communion. Our Cathedral at Clifton is streaming Mass live each day at 9.30am. Simply go to www.cliftoncathedral.org and press ‘Live Stream.’ Alternatively you may go to www.churchservices.tv/whats-on-now/  This will give you a menu of all live services within the next two hours. Fr Michael continues to offer Mass privately each day and you are all remembered at the altar at this time. Keep Safe!

Bishop Declan’s Vision, 2017-2020

Reflecting on the question “Imagine what our Diocese will be like in five to ten years’ time”, Bishop Declan offers his own vision to guide us in the coming years:

The Church of Clifton is called to be a people who believe in Christ, who celebrate Christ, and who live the way of Christ.

The Church is created by God to live, not for itself, but for others;  to be a people who share in the mission of Christ,  to proclaim the Kingdom and to make disciples so that the world will be transformed according to God’s plan.

Our Parishes and Communities should be places where Chrst is celebrated, shared, proclaimed and lived, where everyone is welcomed and valued, and all have a snese of responsibility for the life of the community and the world.

We are called to be disciples who not only know about Jesus but also come to know Him in prayer. Our Liturgies should be celebrated in such a way that Christ’s word is heard, His presence known, and which are so connected to our lives that we joyfully take up the command “Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life”

 

The latest Diocesan Newsletter can be found here:

 

Clifton Diocese Team Briefing – Jan 2018