As you know, the Government moved to stage 4 of its Covid regulation relaxation on July 19th. In response, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) has published updated guidance for churches which you can read here. At St Mary Magdalen church, these guidelines are being considered at present and steps will be taken in due course to gradually re-introduce some of the elements of our worship that have been banned under previous regulations. The wearing of face masks is no longer a legal requirement, but it is suggested that, in respect of fellow parishioners, people continue to wear face masks in church even if not compulsory.
Until advised otherwise, there will be no Children’s Liturgy group, no coffee after church and no hymns sung at 10:00 Mass. From Sunday 25th July, bidding prayers will be reintroduced. However, the homily will still be kept short, the collection and offertory procession still omitted, the sign of peace will not be exchanged and special arrangements for Holy Communion will still apply, with Communion under both kinds unavailable.
We remain supportive of practising social distancing. Please ensure you maintain a 2 metre distance separation from each other whilst entering, leaving and inside church and remember to wear a face covering whilst in church.
Sunday - Its Our Day
In addition to the updated Step 4 Guidance, the CBCEW also issued the following statement entitled Sunday - Its Our Day.
On 19th July, the current legislative powers which assist the mitigations against the Covid-19 virus transmission will be rescinded by HM Government. Nevertheless, there will be an encouragement to personal and corporate responsibility in this area; as the Prime Minister said in his most recent statement “The pandemic is not over.” Even without this legislation in place, the Church in England and Wales will be adopting a cautious approach to capacity and activity within our buildings, especially at corporate acts of worship.
We are mindful of the certain fact that the Covid-19 virus is still circulating in society. Vaccines provide genuine protection against the worst effects of the virus, yet we recognise the legitimate fear on the part of some who otherwise desire to gather for Holy Mass. It is our continuing judgement, therefore, that it is not possible at the present time for all of the faithful to attend Mass on a Sunday thus fulfilling their duty to God.
It is hoped that it will be possible for all Catholics in England and Wales to fulfil this most important Church precept, that of the Sunday Obligation, by the First Sunday in Advent 2021. In the meantime, all Catholics are asked to do their best to participate in the celebration of the weekly Sunday Mass and to reflect deeply on the centrality of Sunday worship in the life of the Church.
In April, following our Plenary Assembly, we offered a reflection on the experience of the extraordinary long months of the pandemic. It was titled The Day of the Lord. We also began to look at the way forward. We spoke about the important invitation to restore the Sunday Mass to its rightful centrality in our lives. We asked for a rekindling in our hearts of a yearning for the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, as our response to the total, sacrificial love that Jesus has for us. We said: “The Eucharist should be the cause of our deepest joy, our highest manner of offering thanks to God and for seeking his mercy and love. We need to make it the foundation stone of our lives.” May this continue to be our striving during these coming months as we journey back to the full celebration of our Sunday Mass and our renewed observance of The Day of the Lord.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today we continue to read from the Gospel of Mark. Recall that last week we heard Jesus chastise his disciples for their argument about who among them was the greatest. Jesus taught them that the greatest among them will be those who serve the least ones. In today’s Gospel, the disciple John questions Jesus about an unknown exorcist who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. John’s question might have been motivated by jealousy. Previously in Mark's Gospel, Jesus healed a boy whom the disciples had been unable to heal. John’s question is further evidence that the disciples have not yet grasped Jesus’ words to them. They continue to compare themselves to others who seem to have greater healing powers, and they do not want to share the power of Jesus’ name with others.
Today the demon possession described in the Gospels might be seen as a form of mental illness, but the need for healing these syndromes was as real then as it is now. Exorcism was a common practice in first-century Palestine. Some people had the power to heal the symptoms of possession. One of the strategies used was to invoke the name of a person or figure who was believed to have the power to heal.
The disciples observed that the unknown exorcist invoked Jesus’ name and was successful in his healing efforts. This unknown healer recognised the power of Jesus’ name, yet he was not a follower of Jesus. In his reply to his disciples, Jesus acknowledges that deeds of faith can precede the words of faith. He also teaches that the disciples should not be reluctant to share Jesus’ healing powers with others.
Later in this Gospel, Jesus teaches us not to create obstacles for those who are just beginning to have faith but to encourage even the smallest signs of faith. The Greek word used here for sin also connotes “stumbling” or “causing scandal.” In vivid terms Jesus teaches his disciples the consequences to those who would put obstacles before people who are on the road to faith. Courtesy of Loyola Press.
World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Today is the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) since 1914. It’s always an occasion to express concern for different vulnerable people on the move, to pray for them as they face many challenges, and to increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.
The Holy Father has sent a message for this event, the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. In the light of the recent disturbing scenes broadcast from Afghanistan, this day for migrants and refugees will have special poignancy. The theme for this year is “Towards an ever wider we” which is a major theme in the Pope’s encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti. The Pope’s message pays particular attention to the care of our common family, which, together with the care of our common home, encourages us to become ever more welcoming and can be read here. Other articles and interviews can be found on the CBCEW web site.
This week's newsletter is available on-line. It has the readings and prayers for today's Mass on the back page which may be useful for those of you at home watching the streamed or recorded Mass. You can read it by clicking here.
Prayer for the Election of a Bishop
O God, eternal Shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and, to us, show watchful care. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
S. Felix, pray for us
All holy Martyrs & Saints of East Anglia, pray for us.
Prayer of the Icon of St Joseph
St Joseph, watch over and care for me,
just as you cared for Jesus when he was a child:
and by your help may I come to know Jesus, the Son of God,
and so grow in love, strength and wisdom. Amen
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ grew to maturity.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen