As we approach the mighty Solemnity of Pentecost, His Eminence the Cardinal has recorded a pastoral message to help us all prepare for the gift of the Holy Spirit. You can watch it here.

From Father Tim:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May is the month of Mary.

The happy birds Te Deum sing,
‘Tis Mary’s month of May;
Her smile turns winter into spring,
And darkness into day;
And there’s a fragrance in the air,
The bells their music make,
And O the world is bright and fair,
And all for Mary’s sake

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From the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, (LUMEN GENTIUM) 69:

“Let the entire body of the faithful pour persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honoured with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Saviour, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.”

Mary is of course more than a theological symbol: she is a person and the respect which we accord her for her maternity develops naturally into the warmth of personal relationship. Karl Rahner, the German Jesuit who was such a formative influence in the Second Vatican Council expresses it like this: “there is no need for us to be nervous, sparing or niggardly when we honour Mary. It is the sign of a truly Catholic life when there grows to maturity in our hearts, slowly but genuinely, cultivated humbly and faithfully, a personal and tender love of the blessed Virgin”. There is so much around us at present which is hard and demanding, which raises anxiety and causes us to question – in Mary we are offered an alternative: something gentler and more tender, someone who only seeks to nurture and reassure. Jesus gifts her to each of us: “Behold, your Mother”.

During this month of May, please try and pray the Rosary each day, asking the Blessed Virgin to be close to us, to be close to all who are struggling at the time, to be close to those who come the hour of death.

It has been truly sad to see so many die from this awful virus especially those who die alone without their family and often without the Sacraments of the Church. As a priest it is troubling that we are prevented from visiting the sick and praying with the dying, and it is the sad reality that we cannot celebrate Funeral Masses for the deceased. I have been in Hendon Cemetery so often in these last weeks. Alongside those the Cardinal prayed for last week we should remember our Funeral Directors and the dignity and care they show to the bereaved in such difficult and trying circumstances. Here is a link to the Cardinal’s homily from last week – homily. Other Masses being offered for frontline workers are as follows:

7 May: Bishop Marcus Stock, Leeds Cathedral

14 May: Bishop Robert Byrne CO, Newcastle Cathedral

21 May: Bishop Mark Davies, Shrewsbury Cathedral

28 May: Bishop Terence Drainey, Middlesbrough Cathedral

This information is available widely, but please do share it with any parishioners who may not have seen it.

We continue to anticipate what may happen when the lock-down begins to be lifted. How it impacts our churches and parishes remains to be seen. I hope that in some fashion we might be able to publicly celebrate Mass with perhaps a limited number of people. We may be able to have several Sunday Masses, with families with surnames A – G at one Mass, G – M at another. Who knows? The Metropolitan Archbishops of England and Wales have issued a message here.

I think of our children who were so looking forward to their First Communion Mass. It is uncertain when and how we might be able to celebrate this most important event in their lives, the life of our Church and parish. In the meantime, please continue to pray that the First Communion Class and their families continue to practice their faith at home with a deep devotion and faithfully join in Mass online on Sunday. I think, too, of our young people who had just stated preparing for Confirmation.

I pray this time strengthens our love and devotion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Perhaps, in former times, we took Mass for granted. It was readily available every day in many places and at many times and now public worship is prohibited.

And so, may we who under the ordinary circumstances of our lives enjoy the great privilege of attending Holy Mass pretty much whenever we wish never be tempted to take it for granted. May we never again think of other things as more important than Mass on Sundays, but, rather, may our hearts burn with thanksgiving for the great gift of receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood, and to proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes, the death that, at every sacred altar, brings us new life.

St. Maximilian Kolbe who died in Auschwitz deprived of the Mass by his Nazi captors said: “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”

Be well. Stay safe! God Bless. Our Lady of Dolours, pray for us!

You can also make a Spiritual Communion not just during the Mass but at any time during the day and unite yourself and those you love with Our Blessed Lord:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
(and then make your intention …)
Amen.

The Masses you have requested we will of course continue to offer on their requested dates – but as public Masses cannot be celebrated at this time, it is generally no longer appropriate for priests to celebrate Mass more than once a day, including on Sundays.  This might mean that some Masses which were to be celebrated for a special intention will now not be celebrated.  In these situations, and only whilst these very exceptional circumstances continue, it might be necessary for a Mass to be celebrated for more than one intention.  Should any member of the faithful who has arranged to have a Mass celebrated for a specific intention not wish to have that intention included with other intentions in what is known as a Collective Intention Mass  s/he should contact the parish office.

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having consulted the Ordinaries of the Dioceses, has agreed that the cessation of public liturgies should begin from Friday evening 20th March 2020. Because of the situation the Church finds herself in, the obligation for the faithful to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday or Holy day of Obligation is removed, until further notice.  However – Sundays are still holy days – the Sabbath. Please keep the Sabbath as best you can. Say your prayers, follow the Masses online, spend some time in quiet and prayer.

I am very aware that some of you may feel rather isolated and alone: please know that we are here for you. You are very much in the daily prayers  – the Divine Office and the Most Holy Rosary which are offered in Our Lady of Dolours – and you can contact us at any time, by telephone or email. Please keep safe, and with prayers and blessings.

Live streams of Masses can be found here: Masses

Other online Masses can be found here  Online Masses

Other resources can be found here Resources

Dear Guardian Angel, go for me to the church, there kneel down at Mass for me. At the Offertory, take me to God, and offer Him my service: What I am, what I have, offer as my gift. At the Consecration, with your seraphic strength, adore my Saviour truly present, praying for those who have loved me, for those who have offended me, and for those now deceased, that the blood of Jesus may purify them all. During Holy Communion, bring to me the Body and Blood of Jesus uniting Him with me in spirit, so that my heart may become His dwelling place. Plead with Him, that through His sacrifice all people throughout the world may be saved. When the Mass ends, bring home to me and to every home, the Lord’s blessing. Amen