LITURGIES IN HOLY WEEK AND AT EASTER Fr Michael is hoping to be free from having to shield from 31st March. This will be confirmed by the government soon. We are therefore hoping to be able to celebrate the Triduum and Easter Day Mass. We will need to have a booking system once again, to ensure the safety of everyone. Details of how to book will follow in due course when the exit from shielding is confirmed. Please see the on line bulletin for updates. We had hoped to be able to begin a streaming service from St Patricks but sadly in the present crisis our finance committee has decided that this will prove too expensive for us at this time.
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER 2021 Friday 5th March. Due to Covid restrictions we will not be holding this service in Corsham this year. However, there will be services on-line including one direct from VANUATU which is this year’s focus country. The link to a video of Vanuatu’s service is not yet available but nearer the time it will be at the World Day of Prayer website: https://www.wwdp.org.uk. Booklets for the service are available free. Please phone 01249 716277 or call at 6 Church Street, Corsham, for a copy.
A LENT RESOURCE for the whole Diocese. Bishop Declan invites each one of us to take time during this coming Lent to reflect on the life of our Diocese as we move forward out of the pandemic. Inspired by the writings of Pope Francis, ‘Dare to Dream’ encourages us to think about God’s invitation to each one of us to shape the future of the Church, particularly in this corner of the world. Each reflection is accompanied by a video which we encourage you to watch before engaging with the scripture offered. This resource can be used by individuals, by families or by already established on-line parish groups. As we move towards Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, an introductory session will help to orientate us for the weeks ahead. Each session has a similar framework to follow. The reflections and videos will appear on the Diocesan Website under the banner – ‘Dare to Dream’. Click here.
Pastoral Letter for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
‘Dare to Dream’ is a Lent resource for our Diocese this year and I commend it to you. The resource follows on from our reflections over the past three years when we have looked at what it means to be a Church in communion, at prayer and with a mission. This Lent we are called to dream, and we do so in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. As we look to the future we ask what sort of Church do we want to be? What do we want for ourselves as members of the Church? As Pope Francis says ‘this is a moment to dream big, to re-think our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and to commit to act in our daily life what we have dreamed’, or to put it another way, as someone said to me recently: if we do not dream how can we shape the future?
We can predict the future to a certain extent but the future can also be full of surprises – some pleasant, some not so. We plan for the future in this present time, but we have a past that gives us an identity. We have our own personal history, but we also have our history as part of the Church and humanity. Into our world comes Jesus, the way, the truth, the life. He comes to reconnect us to God, to one another and to the whole of creation. He comes to renew our lives and deepen our understanding of his dream which he calls the Kingdom of God. He never defines the Kingdom but he often describes it and always lives it to the point of death by crucifixion. However, that is not the end. There is resurrection, a new beginning, a new life. Jesus comes that we might have life and have it to the full.
Jesus asks us to live the values of the Kingdom of God. He calls a people to himself and sends them into the world to make the world a better place and to give hope to those who are despondent, indifferent, or fatalistic. We are that people called and sent by God for the people and world of our day.
Lent is a time of renewal and reconciliation for us as individuals but also as members of a community entrusted with the message of the Gospel, which is to be shared with others. Sometimes we forget that vocation, that responsibility. Lent invites us to allow God to rekindle in us what it means to be the Church. St Paul proclaims on Ash Wednesday: Now is a favourable time; this is the day of salvation.
Self-denial is part of our Lenten journey to Easter. We deny ourselves something which we usually enjoy. The purpose of this is not to punish ourselves but to make us more aware of those in need who are our brothers and sisters. We are called to help them but also to challenge those structures which cause inequality and widen the gap between those who are rich and those who are poor. We are a called to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.
This Lent we should acknowledge those who are working almost to the point of exhaustion in our hospitals, care homes, schools, essential services, and families who are having to provide schooling for their children. They have had to deny themselves for the good of others. To them we say thank you and promise our prayers.
Prayer opens us to the presence of God. Prayer broadens our horizons because it moves us from being self-centred to being God centred and opens us to the needs of others. Prayer is listening to God through the Scriptures, the Sacraments and through one another. Having listened we are better able to make a response in word and action. Listening is often a challenge because we may find our comfort zones questioned. One resolution for this Lent might be to ask for the gift of being able to listen before we speak.
In today’s Gospel Jesus touches the leper and cures him. The leper says to Jesus ‘if you want to, you can cure me’. Jesus replies ‘of course I want to’, and he cures him. As we prepare to enter the season of Lent we are allowing Jesus to touch our lives and to say to us ‘be cured’. In that touch and that cure we dare to dream of what the Kingdom of God might mean to us as God’s people journeying towards Easter and our eternal life.
With my best wishes and prayers
Rt Rev Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
The letter is also available in video and audio form on the following links: Video: https://vimeo.com/511172534
Video Audio: https://soundcloud.com/clifton-diocese/pastoral-letter-for-the-sixth-sunday-in-ordinary-time
Video Audio: https://soundcloud.com/clifton-diocese/pastoral-letter-for-the-sixth-sunday-in-ordinary-time
Also on the website: https://cliftondiocese.com/bishop/
MARY’S MEALS The people of Tigray in Ethiopia urgently need our help. Due to brutal fighting in the region, frightened families have been forced to flee their homes and millions are living in fear of starvation. The region’s capital, Mekelle, is being overwhelmed by displaced and traumatised people arriving every day. Many are unaccompanied children who have lost their parents. Mary’s Meals has been working with a trusted partner in the region for many years and together we are reaching out to children and communities affected by this dire situation. But we really need your help to continue this life-saving work. Please give if you can by donating at www.marysmeals.org.uk
STATUE OF SAINT JOSEPH During this year of St Joseph, it would be lovely and very fitting to return our statue of St Joseph to the Church. It does however require some considerable t.l.c! Over the years our beautiful statue of St Joseph has become very worn and he will need to be renovated. If you would like to help with St Joseph’s renovation, any donations will be very welcome. Please pop your donation in an envelope marked ‘St Joseph’ and post it in the presbytery letter box. Let’s return our wonderful patron of the universal Church, husband of Our Lady and foster father of Jesus to his rightful place this year dedicated to him.
WELCOME THE STANGER On Monday 8th February, the memorial of St Josephine Bakhita is to be celebrated on-line from 5.00-6.30 pm. St Josephine was a young Sudanese girl sold into slavery and later served as a Canossian Daughter of Charity in Italy for fifty years. Do join Bishop Mark O’Toole and Bishop Declan Lang for an evening of prayer and reflection on the issues facing refugees, migrants and those affected by modern slavery. Guest speakers include Nick Hanrahan from the Jesuit Refugee Service and Caroline Virgo from the Clewer initiative. The event will take place via zoom and you can register to attend by emailing email@example.com
SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD. In a very real sense, every Sunday is a Sunday of the Word of God. When we hear the Gospel proclaimed within the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, as Vatican II reminds us, it is Christ who speaks to us. Christ is present in the proclamation of the Word of God. “Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.” (Pope Francis – ‘Aperuit illis’. Scripture, says the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum 21), is “food for the soul.” Who eats just once a week at Mass? To survive and thrive, you need daily nourishment. You can have a steady diet of Scripture by attending Mass daily, participating in the liturgy of the hours, or reading Scripture in daily prayer. In fact, all three make an unbeatable combination.
If you are looking to learn more about the Bible, David McLoughlin invites you to join him on a journey through the whole Bible in a wonderful 7-week course. David is the Emeritus Fellow of Christian Theology at Newman University, Birmingham. He has helped to train Christian activists, priests, deacons, ministers and teachers for 40 years. The aim of this series is to help to get a sense of the Scriptures as a whole, to see the unfolding of God’s liberating and creative love in the history of Israel and in the Church. He will set out with the freed Hebrew slaves and their leader Moses, responding to God’s call; so close and yet always a little strange to us. We will become familiar with their pattern and be guided by the echo of the divine words from the beginning. Words which continue to liberate us in our time. The journey will lead us to encounter God. The same God across all the ages in the one unifying Spirit. The choice of readings will reveal the growing sense of the mystery of God, and the mystery of God’s Creation. Of men and women called to be a reconciled community, capable of selfless responses that can heal and fulfil each other and the world. Download the course: Introduction to Echoes of God Download Week 1 Exodus Download Week 2 Genesis Download Week 3 Prophets Download Week 4 Wisdom Download Week 5 Psalms Download Week 6 Gospels Download Week 7 Paul and the Letters Download Postscript Download Remember that the great St Jerome, said that an ignorance of Scripture is an ignorance of Christ.
St Patrick’s School is currently circulating a consultation paper about the proposal for Saint Patrick’s School and Our lady of Lourdes School, Kingswood to officially federate. This is completely different to academy conversion – the schools keep their separate identities, budgets, OFTSED inspections, results etc. but it offers more security for the future. Please do take a look at the proposal and give your feedback if you wish (Link below). Thank you.