My brothers and sisters,
I hope that you are all keeping safe and well as we enter another week of social-distancing and protective isolation. I am thinking and praying for all the members of our parish and beyond, and like you, I am mindful of all those suffering from the current pandemic. Not only is it affecting people’s health and wellbeing but of course it is affecting our economy and livelihoods too. I know that there is a lot of uncertainty for everyone at the moment, but we hold each other in our thoughts and prayers.
We are just about to enter Holy Week, which is the holiest Season in our Church’s year. On Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. Jesus is cheered by the crowd at the beginning of the week, but by the end of it He is jeered and rejected, tried and sentenced to death on the cross. On Wednesday, Bishop Mark will celebrate the Chrism Mass at Plymouth Cathedral. In this Mass we celebrate the gift of Ordination and the Holy Oils are blessed and consecrated. These will then be used for celebrating the sacraments during the coming year. Priests also renew the promises they made at their ordination and renew their commitment to the love of God’s people and to their service. On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Normally 12 people would have a foot wash (actually two – one before the Mass and the other by the priest during the Mass!) followed by the procession to the Garden of Gethsemane after the Mass. On Good Friday we contemplate the Way of the Cross before the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 3 pm. Holy Saturday is always a quiet, contemplative ‘non-day’ as the Lord rests in the tomb. Of course, the highlight and culmination of our celebrations is the great Easter Vigil at which the glorious Exsultet is sung, the Paschal Candle is blessed and lit from the Easter Fire and our readings and psalms are proclaimed. These all tell of God’s saving action and work of salvation for each of us and for all God’s people. All these liturgies form one continuous celebration, so we keep our meditation and awareness throughout.
At present we are unable to meet together to celebrate these sacred and beautiful liturgies but we can pray them at home, as many Christians around the world do if they are unable to get to church for one reason or another. So, I will do my best to stream our services online for you!
I am very much aware that the current restrictions on our worship together are difficult. However, there are things that we can do:
Vincent, Cardinal Nichols sent a Tweet to say the following:
‘The obligation of our Easter Duties is removed from us in these extreme circumstances. Our Catholic tradition allows us in this situation to make an Act of Perfect Contrition to express the sorrow we feel for our offences against the goodness of God.’
How do I do this? Why not prepare yourself as if you were going to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation – think of the things you would wish to say in confession. Ask the Lord to show you what you need to confess and you could use an examination of conscience to help you from a prayer book. Make a determination to confess these as soon as we can celebrate Reconciliation again. Then say your prayer of sorrow/Act of Contrition sincerely.
Reading the readings of the day is always helpful, our own prayers, praying the rosary, praying litanies and novenas and praying the Way of the Cross at home are all among the
treasures of our faith and Church and help us to pray for each other – and for the Church and the World.
We are managing to stream our Masses and prayers from St Joseph’s Room in the Hall at the moment. This means you can still watch Mass from our church each day at 10 am. You
can access this through our parish website, www.assumptionofourlady.org
This year, our Easter Services will be streamed and available online as follows: Palm Sunday Mass at 10am (Online at 11 am from Plymouth Cathedral)
Mass Mon-Wed 10 am. (The Chrism Mass has been postponed to a later date)
Mass of the Lord’s Supper – 7 pm (Online at 7 pm from Plymouth Cathedral)
Good Friday Way of the Cross at 12 midday.
Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion at 3 pm online from Plymouth Cathedral.
The focus for National coverage will be Watching at the Altar of Repose from St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham: – www.stchadscathedral.org.uk
Evening Prayer 6 pm from our church.
Holy Saturday Easter Vigil at 8.30 pm (Online at 8.30 pm from Plymouth Cathedral)
Easter Sunday Mass 10 am. (Online at 11 am from Plymouth Cathedral)
Where possible, you may wish to connect with Bishop Mark and the Cathedral clergy during these celebrations by participating in the online streams from the Cathedral. Our unity and
communion with our Bishop and the Universal Church is emphasised through these liturgies. Our church is more than bricks and mortar – it’s you and I! We are the church. ‘God has
composed the body … so that its members should have mutual concern for one another’ (1 Corinthians 12:25). So, our care for each other is particularly important – phone your friends, phone each other in the parish and keep in touch! If anyone needs anything, please get in touch.
A Prayer of Spiritual Communion
In union, O dear Lord, with the faithful at every altar of your Church, where your blessed Body and Blood are being offered to the Father, I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I present to you my soul and body, with the earnest wish that I may be always united to you. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to comespiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you, and embrace you with all the affections of
my soul. O let nothing ever separate you from me. Let me live and die in your love. Amen.
Church-wise, there are a number of other resources that are available. If you like Medjugorje and would like to keep up-to-date with events there, try www.marytv.tv and Facebook: www.facebook.com/marytv.tv/
If you’d like to catch up with the re-dedication of England as Mary’s dowry, have a look at www.walsingham.org.uk You could probably find Mass there as well and if you missed Pope Francis giving the’ Urbi et Orbi’ last week, find it here too.
Try www.rpbooks.co.uk/blog to find Fr Denis McBride and his Mass and resources for ‘The Stations of the Cross Then and Now’
CAFOD is hosting children’s liturgy for families on Sundays at 10 am – www.cafod.org.uk/pray
Torquay Community Larder
This is based at The Salvation Army in Market Street. The Larder is working hard to maintain and possibly extend its service to address growing emergency needs. It is receiving more referrals than ever. During this crisis it is temporarily shifting much of its emphasis to deliveries. There is a temporary pick up service on Mondays between 10 am and 3 pm to collect supplies where they have been gathered in significant amounts. Supplies can also be
brought to the larder in the usual way (but don’t put yourselves at any risk – continue to follow the Government’s guidelines).
Call 01803 294197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is in a similar situation as the Larder. (Riviera Life Church next to Torquay Museum). They particularly welcome cooking sauces right now, to twin with stocks of pasta and rice. 07486
402493 or email: email@example.com
Prayer – The Salvation Army asks us at 12 noon each day to unite our prayers: As the hands of the clock come together at 12 each day then let our hands come together in prayer for our world situation. Let’s unite in prayer with Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be at 12 noon each day.
Also, how about at 7 pm each Sunday, uniting in prayer for our world?
Information from Christians Together in Torbay includes the Torbay Development Trust on 01803 446022 from 8 am – 8 pm 7 days a week and Brixham Does Care on 01803 857727 from 9 am – 4.30 pm Monday to Friday. These aim to help those in any kind of need.
Please know that I am here for you, and that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep safe and well, and remember – ‘Clean hands are happy hands’! And don’t forget to moisturise so they don’t end up feeling like sandpaper!
God bless you, and wishing you a very blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week, Fr Colin
(I know we would be having our Passion Play this week, and I’m so sorry it’s not taking place. However, I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who took parts in it and spent so much time preparing for it. Huge thanks, too, to Julia Beacroft and Susanne Kowal who produced and directed it, and to Doreen Ann who spent so much time making such beautiful costumes. Thanks also to Ronni and her choir. Hopefully, you’ll yet be able to see them and perhaps the play …!)