Some of you will have organised your roses, pink wine and chocolate to celebrate St Valentine. I think he actually existed. I visited a lovely church in Dublin dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Valentine, near St Stephen’s Green. There is a shrine to St Valentine and a reliquary containing some of his bones. My companion confided that his middle name is Valentine. In the modern Church calendar the 14 February is the feast of two ninth-century Greek brothers, Cyril and Methodius, who successfully preached the Gospel to the Slavonic peoples, and translated the bible for them, even inventing an alphabet called the Cyrillic. Somehow “Will you be my Cyril?” doesn’t have the same ring to it. Anyway this year it becomes the 6th Sunday in ordinary time and this week it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
To make the “Ashes” ceremony more accessible this year, I’ve decided to perform the ‘sprinkling’ of ashes next Sunday, the First Sunday in Lent. You can keep Ash Wednesday as usual by eating less and doing some act of mortification such as not eating meat. Next Sunday we will enter the penitential spirit and begin our annual attempt to improve our lives. This week sees the gospel story of the healing of a leper by the touch of Jesus. It makes us think of the ‘leprosy’ of sin, and how we all could do with his healing forgiveness. There is a full house for each of the two Masses this weekend, but no 9.00am. It may be that more people want to come next week. It would help if people wishing to come at 9.00am would phone early on Wednesday afternoon, and so making it difficult for me to cancel that Mass for lack of ‘subscribers’. Only two people requested 9am this week.
I had a call from the sales manager of the Catholic papers pleading with me to say how you could all have the (together) Universe and Catholic Times sent to your home by post, just £25 for three months, £99 for a year, or £55 for a year’s digital copy. That is an awful lot of material and very good value, so if you have the money to spare you would get a bargain and help to keep these venerable Catholic papers from going under. Please go to www.thecatholicuniverse.com or call them on 0161 820 5722.
Those promised Lenten weekly discussion groups on Zoom are going ahead. Please see full details on a special note on this website. You can obtain the booklets from Sue Eadon at Sanctuary Café by phoning 07502 921891. Other Churches Together news: Would any young families like to set up an outdoor depiction at our church of one of the Stations of the Cross during Lent? If the challenge appeals to you, please contact Andrea Hosker or myself. Also the Women’s World Day of Prayer is in the first week in March. Details of where and when will appear later.
Norman Frazer’s funeral is in the crematorium in Dunham on Tuesday, and the funeral Mass for Stan Beardmore is on Thursday at noon in St Winefride’s. I have offered Mass this week for Sean O’Cleirigh and Cyril Hardy (RIP), in Thanksgiving (Kelly and Sherlock), and for Mike Clayton who is sick.
Thank you for all the planned giving donations.
Keep safe and warm.
Fr Tony Elder