Some people have been asking about the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this time of shut-down. Below is an excellent video by the Cardinal explaining what the Church teaches concerning extraordinary situations such as we are experiencing now.
Many appreciated the "Light a Candle of Hope" initiative last Sunday evening so we will continue this every week. This involves lighting a candle in your window at 7.00pm every Sunday. We will be praying for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the Covid-19 virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions. Some appreciated praying the Evening Prayer of the Church during this time using Universalis.
Many apologies for the delay of Mass this morning due to technical problems. Fortunately it still finished just in time for us all to join the Archbishop in Birmingham for the prayers of dedication to Our Lady. If you were not able to join the Archbishop, there is a video of the Cardinal leading the prayers below.
The Bishops' Conference are now providing some good material to help us all pray at home during these difficult times. These can be accessed on the website of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. You will also find there the prayers for the re-dedication of England to our Lady this Sunday. These prayers have also been placed on the Bulletin. Please remember to print off the bulletin and drop it into the letterbox of anyone you know who does not have access to the internet.
It has been great receiving feedback on our online Masses. You may not realise but the only technology we have is my mobile phone so we do not even have the ability to connect better microphones and we were limited with the very bad internet connection we have at Giffard House. For this reason, we have been recording the Masses and loading them up onto youtube afterwards. We have now upgraded the data package on my mobile phone so that we can bypass the house connection. This means that next week we will try live streaming the Masses. The quality might not be so good but it would mean that we are all praying the Mass together at exactly the same time. The Vatican has also directed that the Easter Triduum services may only be streamed live, so it will be good to practice doing this next week.
Please note therefore, that some of the Mass times have changed next week. Check the parish diary or the bulletin.
The Pope has announced that tommorrow, Friday 27th March , he will preside over a moment of prayer outside St Peter’s Basilica. “I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication”, he said.
The ceremony will be broadcast live from the Vatican, beginning at 5pm UK time. It will consist of readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
At the end Pope Francis will give the 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the City of Rome and the World) blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The Urbi et Orbi blessing is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.
I'm sure that like me, you are beginning to realise the full impact of the social restrictions that have been implemented to curb the advance of the virus. Here in the parish office at SS Peter & Paul we have worked on providing a framework for communication through this website but obviously, it is only any use for someone who has access to the internet. As I said at Masses in the last two weeks before we had to close the churches, it is therefore essential that we use the telephone to check up on each other. If everyone is phoning a couple of people each, then it is like a tree growing out across the parish. I have already heard of great initiatives with people using whatsapp groups and a lovely story of someone holding their telephone to the computer during Mass online so that another parishioner could hear it. Through simple gestures like this, we can keep everyone connected to the parish family.
If anyone has other ideas of helping keep the lines of communication open, please let me know.
Keeping you all in my prayers, and especially at daily Mass,
The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, has asked us to share the following statement with our local communities:
"Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday introduced significant social restrictions, which touch on everyone’s lives across the West Midlands. These are unprecedented in peacetime and I know will be hard on you and your families.
I want to assure you that my officers and staff will continue to work every hour of every day to keep you safe. We will protect you. That is our duty and that is my promise to you.
But this is my ask of you. I urge the people of the West Midlands to follow the new instructions. They are essential and it will save lives. Nothing is more important.
Officers and PCSOs will be visible in our communities and I have asked them all to engage positively but safely with anyone we suspect is in breach of the new regulations. Officers will explain what the new restrictions are and what we expect of everyone.
If we have to talk to you we will:
If people do not listen to our advice then we will move to enforcement.
We are already receiving many calls on potential breaches of these arrangements. People can advise us if there are large scale breaches with large numbers of people congregating via webchat or 101. We would ask you to trust that we will target the most problematic behaviour.
This will only work if people make sensible choices and observe what they are being told.
You can keep in touch with West Midlands Police by following @WMPolice on Twitter, on Facebook as well as signing up for community messaging where you live via WMNow.
The country is facing a challenging period when helping each other and being good neighbours and friends has never been so vital. As Chief Constable I know our communities will rise to the challenge and we will all work together to prevent the spread of the virus."
Please pray for all those who work in the emergency services at this difficult time.
Chaplain to West Midlands Police
In his Address to the Nation the Prime Minister outlined the necessary steps that we must now take to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. The Government has mandated the ‘closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores, and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.’
This means that, until further notice, and with immediate effect, all of our churches must now close their doors to the public. This policy must be implemented without exception. This is an essential component of our contribution to fighting the Coronavirus and living out the Lord Jesus’ commandment to ‘love our neighbour.’ (Mk 12:31).
The Prime Minster also stated that all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals, must cease.
Given these extraordinary circumstances, the opportunities for us to pray together using technology becomes even more important. There are plenty of resources on our website to help us do this. One example is the daily Mass which is available online. Another is praying at home at specified times of the week, knowing that many others are doing the same. For example:
Keeping you all in my prayers,
There is a great national initiative of prayer taking place this evening at 7pm. I will be praying Evening Prayer of the Church at this time. You can say the same prayers at home by going to the Universalis page. Please see the statement below for more details about the initiative:
This Mothering Sunday, 22 March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.
At 7 p.m. this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.
Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation. We would pray for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the Covid-19 virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
There are already stories being told of wonderful acts of kindness across neighbourhoods. Alongside your prayers, take the opportunity to telephone or email someone who is isolated, buy some additional food for your local foodbank, or offer to deliver shopping for an elderly neighbour. We may not be able to touch physically, but we can make connections in so many other ways.
In the meantime, do please attend to all the government health advice that will be issued, and look out for resources from your specific church governing bodies. At least for those of us in the global North, we do seem to be in unusual times, and wisdom and flexibility about worship gatherings are a key part of our Christian discipleship during this period.
We note that this call to prayer and action comes on Mothering Sunday: a time of thankfulness, remembering especially mothers who have served us, often in very costly ways. It is also a very mixed day for many. For some the remembrance is painful, and for others Mothering Sunday is a reminder of disappointment or loss.
In many ways, this period under the shadow of the coronavirus will be prompting similarly diverse reactions and so it seems especially appropriate that the call to prayer is made this Sunday. At this time of uncertainty join in with the National Day of Prayer and Action, lighting a candle of hope.
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5.7
Presidents of Churches Together in England:
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury
Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Archbishop Angaelos of London, CTE President for the Orthodox Churches
Pastor Agu Irukwu, CTE Pentecostal President
Due to the very poor internet connection at SS Peter and Paul, we are limited in what we do online at present. The problem is not with our internet provider but the actual cable under the ground to the street.
For this reason, at the moment we can only provide Mass once a day. It might be possible in a couple of weeks for us to be able to stream Vespers and Stations of the Cross. Please bear with us as we sort this out.
Today's Mass is now available on our website. This week's bulletin is also available online.
Let us continue to pray for each other.
Fr Mark will be celebrating Mass every day for your intentions. It is now possible to participate in these Masses by going to the "Online Parish Services" page of our website. The first online Mass will be available at 10.00am on Saturday 21st March (tomorrow). The full schedule of these Masses will be found on the next Sunday's bulletin and also the parish diary on the "Home" page.
We hope that you will also be able to join us online for Adoration and Vespers on Sunday evenings at 7.00pm. Stations of the Cross will also be on Fridays at 7.00pm.
The Bishops' Conference has released an excellent video featuring Professor Jim McManus who's Hertfordshire County Council's Director of Public Health and a key contributor to the Catholic Church's Healthcare Reference Group.
Following the suspension of public acts of worship, Jim gives an update and offers some dos and don'ts when it comes to self-isolation and social distancing. He talks about how we can all stay safe and how when we protect ourselves, we protect others - particularly the most vulnerable and those who are not in a position to work from home.
As you can see from today's statement from the Bishops of England and Wales (click here), sadly there will be no more public celebrations of the Mass from Friday evening. We have already cancelled Mass tomorrow at St Michael's but the Funeral Mass on Friday 20th for Gabriel Langan RIP will be going ahead as planned.
All other gatherings such as choir practice, youth clubs, parish council meetings, children's catechesis, children's First Reconciliation and so on will also be cancelled and rearranged at a later date.
The Churches will be open, however, for individual personal prayer. We will be looking into organising times when they will be open and a schedule will be published on the bulletin. The bulletin will still be printed this weekend so that copies can be taken to people who do not have access to the internet.
I will be celebrating Mass each day for you all. We are in the process of sorting out live streaming so that you will be able to participate in Mass online. The schedule for these Masses will be put on the bulletin this weekend.
We also hope to live stream Adoration and Vespers on Sunday afternoons.
Please pass on this information to any friends you know who have no access to the internet.
Let us pray for one another in this difficult time.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the 'serious reason' why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
"The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want."
May God bless us all.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols
President, Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
A spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales has said:
“Following the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday and advice from public health professionals, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are being consulted on the issues regarding public worship.
"A clear statement of the way forward will be issued tomorrow morning following the consultation and the decisions made will be by the five Archbishops.”
Following discussions at a special deanery meeting this afternoon, it has been decided that we should cancel the meetings for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion on March the 23rd and March 28th. The Reconciliation Services in April have also been cancelled. We will be issuing further guidelines tomorrow.
Please be aware of the most recent guidelines listed in the previous update (10.03.20).
Things to Remember
How do we respond with faith to this situation?
Online Masses and Prayer Resources
For those unable to attend church, you can watch and listen to Mass using the button below or on the Home page of our website. Alternatively you can use the "prayer resources" button to pray at the time you would normally attend.
As there have been local cases of infection, the Diocese has asked that we move to Stage 2 of the Bishops' Conference Guidelines regarding the Coronavirus. So from today we will take the following precautions:
Please click "Read More" to see some useful information videos.
This page page displays the latest announcements. For regular weekly news, please ensure you also read the Parish Bulletin, which is available on the Home page. For previous versions of the Bulletin, click here.