1) Ash Wednesday and Penitence
Writing in his Pastoral Letter for Ash Wednesday (full text here) Cardinal Vincent writes: “Receiving ashes is an outward sign of an inner step, a movement of the heart towards our beloved Lord. This year I invite you to concentrate much more on this inner, spiritual movement than on its outward manifestation in the imposition of ashes“. Many of us won’t be able to receive ash this year. What matters, though, is our intention to turn to the Lord Jesus anew and to be honest about our need of forgiveness. Receiving ash on Ash Wednesday means little if it is not the sign of a plan for real action. Let’s make lockdown Lent a time of opportunity for that real action.
2) Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available in a Covid-secure setting. Coming to church for Reconciliation is a legitimate journey to make during lockdown.
Every Saturday 10.00am at St Gabriel’s (until about 11.45am)
(We are using St Gabriel’s for now because St Bernard’s can’t be heated properly because of Covid precautions).
This year all obligations of the faith are suspended and we do only what we choose, or what we can. This year we can’t provide extra time for Reconciliation before Easter. So, let’s use this disruption to rediscover what the “obligations” are for. Find a time in Lent, or the weeks of Easter, to come to Reconciliation in a safe, distanced way. Take time to prepare. If you need help ask Fr James or Fr Tom. You may like to go to our Examination of Conscience resource page to receive help in preparing for this wonderful sacrament.
Some are isolated at home and can’t come to Reconciliation. That very separation can be a way to come to know God’s mercy and to plan for when you can return to sacramental grace. Again, there will be more on the website to help with this.
3) Prayer and Study
In church Stations will follow Friday Mass. To comply with Covid protocols, if you want to come to Stations you must attend Mass as we cannot sanitize the church between Mass and Stations.
The Stations will be live-streamed on the Youtube channel.
The Stations of the Cross can also be prayed alone or with the family at home. Most prayer books contain a version of the Stations, and there are many on-line versions. Here are some versions from YouTube
¨ Join a “Zoom” Lent Group (Mondays at 7.30pm, starts 22 Feb.)
This Lent we will take the chance to renew our faith in the season of Lent. The focus of these sessions is on knowing God and the salvation he offers in Jesus Christ, and on our response to this offer of salvation in faith, freedom and love
Each session involves a short, thought-provoking film about the big questions of life and the central beliefs of the Christian faith. The main presentation is by Fr Stephen Wang. There are street interviews with people from very different backgrounds, giving a fresh perspective on the big questions. There are guest speakers sharing their experiences.
Fr Stephen sets some questions for us to discuss in small groups.
The weekly themes are
1) The existence of God. 2)Who is Jesus? 3) The Holy Spirit and the Church. 4) The gift of faith. 5) Finding true freedom. 6) The meaning of love.
To register for this course please send an email to the parish office firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a link for you to join the Zoom group. (If you need help call Fr Tom for advice).
¨ “Best Lent Ever” online and email Lenten companion
Sign up on www.dynamiccatholic.com for daily emails for the “Best Lent Ever” programme. “It’s not what you give up this Lent, it’s who you become”. Always thought provoking and inspiring.
¨ From the Repository shops:
At church ask a steward or the clergy after Mass for what you want. Or telephone the Parish Office to arrange a purchase.
Walk With Me – A journey of Lenten prayer for 2021 still £1.00
The familiar daily Lenten companion. We have limited stock.
Walk with Me – Activity booklet for younger children 35 pages £1.00
Useful help for families in Lent – it even tells you how to make a Simnel cake for Easter!
Praying the Our Father in Lent 70 pages £3.50
Fr James writes: This is a beautifully illustrated little book that gives us a fresh way to pray steadily through Lent. Each reflection of the Lord’s Prayer is not too long or heavy, but fresh and thought provoking. For anyone who wants to deepen prayer.
Stations of the Cross; the way of Divine Mercy 48 pages £3.50
New presentation of the classic Stations of St Alphonsus with additional prayers by the saint.
Large print Stations of the Cross 63 pages £3.50
St Alphonsus’ classic Stations in a handy format with large type for the visually impaired
Calvary through the eyes of Mary 42pages £2.95
Illustrated throughout, this version of the Stations of the Cross allows us to accompany our Mother Mary on her sorrowful route to the crucifixion. Growing closer to Our Lady as a good Lenten exercise.
4) Give alms and do works of mercy
Whatever charitable works you support, renew that commitment in a sacrificial way during Lent, or take on something new, or volunteer somewhere.
There will be a box or wall box for Lenten Alms in each church. As a parish we will support:
¨ Providence Row: Diocesan charity helping break cycles of homelessness in London. Info. at www.providencerow.org.uk
¨ Hadiab Syriac Catholic Diocese, Iraq: With Aid to the Church in Need. As Pope Francis visits the beleaguered Christians of Iraq we will aid this community building itself up from nothing.