January Message From Fr Simon
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Happy New Year!
The next few months will clearly be challenging, but let’s hope that as the year goes on, there will be a significant change for the better.
Under the latest regulations, public worship can continue in churches. In fact, going to church is one of the specific reasons we are allowed to leave our homes under the current lockdown. Therefore, the plans for Sunday and weekday worship, the Epiphany, the Confirmation Course and Candlemas remain in place. The daily rhythm of Morning and Evening Prayer will also continue.
However, in the light of the increased transmission rate of the new strain of the virus, we have decided to suspend singing by the choir at the Sunday 9.15am and 11.15am Masses.
Please continue to take responsibility for sanitizing you hands on entering and leaving the church and wear a face mask at all times in church. It is also important to maintain physical distancing in church, especially when passing in and out of the church door when we can easily have casual encounters with each other, aswell as in the churchyard.
Throughout this crisis, churches everywhere have demonstrated that they take the need to provide a safe environment extremely seriously. St Martin’s is no exception. Thank-you to all of you who work together to make sure this is possible.
For Sunday Masses you will need to continue to book a seat. To attend weekday Masses, you can just turn up. We do however keep a record of contact details for all who attend weekday services in case there’s a need to track and trace those who’ve been present at any particular occasion.
Video-recordings of Sunday Mass will continue to be available here.
Remember too, that St Martin’s remains open every day for all to enter and pray or to enjoy some peace and quiet.
Wednesday 6th January: The Epiphany of the Lord
The Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Wise Men from the East to the newborn Son of God. His identity as King, God and Sacrificial Saviour is revealed by the gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. There will be a special Mass with music and the Blessing of the Epiphany Crib at 7.30pm this Wednesday evening to which I invite you.
We are planning to start our Confirmation programme with the Admission of Catechumens at 6.30pm on Sunday 10th January. It will be possible for that service and for the Confirmation course to take place safely, in a way in which everyone remains in their family “bubbles.” The Confirmation itself is due to take place on Ascension Day, 13th May, during a Mass at 7.30pm.
Tuesday 2nd February: The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
On the 40th day after his birth, in obedience to the Jewish law, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. It was there that the old man, Simeon recognized him as the Light of the World. For this reason, candles have traditionally been blessed on this day which is often known as Candlemas. We will have a special Mass with Candlemas ceremonies at 7.30pm.
Our children and young people
I am always keen to try to find ways to encourage our children and young people in their faith. Please check out the For Youngsters section of the website. The Toddler Group section provides a regular activity devised by Emma Hodgson and Fr James for very young children.
There are also Family Packs for each Sunday so that children and young people can engage with the Gospel at home. Gina Glossop (our Children’s Champion) and I, are hoping that we can add to our resources for young people soon. If you have any creative ideas. Please do let us know about them.
Those who need our prayers and support
Those who work in the Health Service and in our schools are under terrific pressure at the moment and there is no sign that things are going to get any easier for them in the foreseeable future. Please keep them in your daily prayers at this time, as well as all whose livelihoods are under threat. More and more people are and will continue to struggle in the weeks and months to come.
Let us all try to be of as much support and encouragement to each other as we possibly can during these dark winter months. The love of God revealed in Jesus, “God with us,” is a source of light and hope. By our actions, especially in demonstrating care for one another, we can help to reflect the love and light at the heart of our faith.
May God bless you all. Please pray for me as I pray for you.