It is hard to be restrained from ‘jumping the gun’ when we know that there will soon be an easing of Covid-induced restrictions. Not long to go now. This Sunday echoes our thoughts about God’s Covenants, and heralds the annual celebration of Holy Week, which begins NEXT Sunday with blessing of palms to recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem prior to his arrest. Today we celebrated St Joseph’s feast, in the year the Holy Father has dedicated to the guardian of Jesus and guardian of the Church. Through his protection may our return to ‘normal’ bring new growth.
In church there has been a pile of unused planned giving envelopes in their boxes, a reminder of all those who were unable to come to Mass during the past year. They have been replaced by new ones for the year ahead, and can be collected after Mass. Please be careful only to touch the one assigned to you.
It is also the time of year when we claim for tax paid by you on the donations you have made. If your circumstances have changed, or you feel you don’t wish to remain in the Gift Aid scheme, please contact Peter Thomason (01925 753732 or mobile 07720 460894) by 5 April, otherwise it will be assumed you have paid sufficient income tax to reclaim Gift Aid on donations made in the past year.
Any tax-paying parishioners who currently donate cash in the offertory collection may like to consider signing up for our gift aid scheme. The process is simple, whether you opt to continue to donate weekly using envelopes provided by the parish, or pay monthly by Standing Order. For every £4 donated, the parish benefits by £1 in returned tax. Just leave your contact details on the sheet in the Parish Rooms and our gift aid Organiser Mr Thomason will contact you to make the necessary arrangements.
Sunday 28 March (the clocks will have gone forward to BST overnight) is Palm Sunday, and palms will be distributed at three masses, 5.45 Sat, 9.00am and 10.30am.
Please book in for a place, phoning 01925 752224 after 2.00pm on Wednesday. This week the 9.00am Mass took on the 18 overspill numbers while the other two Masses were fully booked again. Very encouraging. It is very safe, and again I thank the stewards who keep to the hygiene stipulations carefully and see that the rest of us do as well.
This year there will be some shortened Holy Week ceremonies, unfortunately with a limited congregation. On Maundy Thursday we will have Mass at 7.30pm and we give thanks for the institution of the blessed sacrament by Our Lord at the Last Supper, but there won’t be any washing of feet or procession to the altar of repose and no watching before the tabernacle at the altar of repose, though you can stay to pray a little after mass. People at mass next weekend can sign up for the thirty places. On Good Friday the shortened afternoon service at 3.00pm with reading of the Passion, veneration of the cross, and Holy Communion, will take place and again people can sign up after Mass next weekend.
On HOLY SATURDAY after dark (i.e. at 8.00pm) there is a shorter Vigil Mass. There will be no fire or procession with candles, but the Paschal Candle in church is venerated with the chant of praise (the ‘Exultet); there are only three Old Testament readings. Then, at mass, an epistle and gospel, the blessing of water and renewal of baptism promises, and Mass as we have become accustomed to during the past year. Please book for this and the 9.00am and 10.30am Easter Sunday masses on the Wednesday of Holy Week in the afternoon as usual.
Churches Together have two ongoing initiatives: an Easter Challenge Family Quiz with some Easter eggs for prizes – and also a projected help facility, based on the Sanctuary Hub, for older people who can’t keep abreast with IT. Essential leaflets are available at Mass this weekend for finding out more about both these ventures.
Another helpful weekly online course, from the Westminster Archdiocese, free of charge, is about Bible History. It begins on April 7. In eight Wednesday evening sessions, starting at 7.00pm, Mauro Janicelli will deliver LIVE a helpful description of the twelve stages of Bible History. This is strongly recommended. Info and registration www.comeandsee.org.
I would also draw attention to the re-issue by McCrimmons (www.mccrimmons.com) of a wonderful prayer book by the late David Konstant Bishop of Leeds. It is entitled ‘Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life’. It has saved my faith and my sanity. Now for 200 pages it sells at £12.50. I got my copies for 1p second hand on Amazon, but that was some time ago. With thoughtful meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and prayers for all occasions, it is fresh and stimulating and sympathetic to the struggling prayerful soul.
Rosemary Fairs gave up her brave struggle with illness and handicap on Thursday morning. Please pray for the repose of her soul, and for those who are very ill. The funerals of James Sproats and James McKenna took place during the week. I have said Mass for Ann & John Hallatt, for Stan Beardwood, for World Peace, and for a special Intention (JK). Thursday is the feast of the Annunciation, associated with Mothers’ Day, when Gabriel appeared to Mary of Nazareth and told her she would conceive and bear a Son, and told her to name him ‘Jesus’, (saviour).
Fr Tony Elder
Entrance: Give me justice, O God, and plead my cause against a nation that is faithless. From the deceitful and cunning rescue me, for you, O God, are my strength.
Psalm: A pure heart create for me O God.
Acclamation: Glory to you, O Christ. You are the Word of God. If a man serves me he must follow me; wherever I am, my servant will be there too. Glory to you O Christ. You are the Word of God.
Communion: Amen Amen I say to you. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.