My dear friends in Christ,
This weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, marking the end of another liturgical year; next weekend we begin a new year as we step into the holy season of Advent. However, as we focus on the kingship of Jesus this weekend we need to proceed with caution, reminding ourselves that Jesus did not lay claim to the title ‘king’ in his lifetime. This might be because of all the negative undertones that come with such a title – power, control, authoritarianism, unapproachable, distant, oppression, ‘not one of us’, privilege, prestige and wealth. As we know, this is not how Jesus understood God or revealed God – quite the opposite in fact.
However, humans are more comfortable with a divine monarch at the top of pyramidal reality. Consequently, we quickly made Jesus, who described himself as “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29), into an imperial God, both in western Rome and eastern Constantinople. This idea set a particular tone which, from time to time, reared its ugly head throughout Christian history, and thus religion – in the name of Christ – was used as a vehicle to exert control, manipulate, and dominate.
A positive quality of kingliness, is the task of uniting, bringing people together, and Jesus was certainly a community formation person. He strove to break down the cultural and societal barriers of his time, trying to show us that we are all equal in the sight of God. In fact, Jesus tried to point out that we are one because we all share in the same divine origins. It is the false self/ego in us that tends to divide, whether it is by ‘stinking thinking’, attitudes or behaviours.
Jesus’ kingship was all about communion with others, and by implication, service towards others. Hence, the greatest religious achievement we could ever attain is seeing Him in others, which is the central theme of the gospel we hear today – “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me…in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you neglected to do it to me.” Put it another way, it is no good coming to church or claiming any religious virtue while judging and looking unkindly at others.
As king of the universe, the power that Jesus possesses is the same power that He shares with us, and that is the power of eternal being, which is the hallmark of everything you see. In and through our humanity, He invites us to allow our true being to come to the fore, which is the spiritual project before all of us.
Wishing you every blessing,
Dear friends,Dear friends,
Sorry for this long email, but there is a lot to cover. The information provided here is supplementary to my previous email, so it is important that you are aware of its content.
I would like to take you through some significant points about our opening for Mass – please read carefully.
As I mentioned before, because of the reduced capacity, you will need to book your seat(s) for Mass beforehand and well in advance. Turning up on the ‘off chance’ would most likely result in you not being able to attend Mass because the church could be full.
As we have to provide a ’Track & Trace’ audit trail, the easiest and most helpful way to book is online (please see our Parish website - www.saintgeorgeschurch.co.uk.)
If you are unable to do this, try to find someone else who can. But remember, for ‘Track & Trace’ purposes, they must use your details and not their own. When you book online an email will automatically be sent to Sharon who will allocate your seats and email you back with the details. If it is out of her office hours, she will not be able to get back to you immediately. Please be patient and please be content with the seats allocated for you; we are not able to chop and change. It is an administrative challenge as it is.
If you are unable to do any of the above two options, then please telephone Sharon during her office hours to book it for you.
If you do come along on the ‘off chance’ and there happens to be space, then one of the stewards will need to take a few details from you for ‘Track & Trace’ purposes.
The online booking system will be going live on a Monday and will close at 12 noon on Friday's. This will give you the opportunity to book for Masses on the following week.
Face-coverings in church are currently mandatory. Please arrive in good time before Mass starts.
On reopening our churches for Mass, Cardinal Vincent Nichols offers these cautionary words: - ‘Please be aware that there will be a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to normal’.
We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for more people.'
Arriving at the church
On entering the church, please sanitise your hands and then wait to be assisted by a steward. You should already know your place in the church from when you booked it online or by telephone. However, there will be a ‘seat map’ displayed in the outer porch with your name on it. Pews are identified by letters and numbers, i.e. L1 = Left hand side of church, pew 1.
Please note that the UK Government has stated that Services should be conducted in, ‘the shortest possible time’.
Mass will unfold in the usual way except there will be no singing. We cannot provide Mass cards because of the risk of transmission of the virus. If you have a Missal, please bring it with you. To start off with, the readings will be done by the duty Altar Server.
Procedure for Holy Communion
The Communion Rite has been ‘reworked’ and is quite different! I will explain at each Mass the procedure that needs to be followed, however, here are the highlights: -
• At the place where communion is to be given to the congregation, a physical barrier (prie-dieu) will be there to socially distance the priest from the communicant.
• You must remain seated until you are invited to come forward by the steward.
• When you approach the priest, you should put out your arms at “full stretch” so that there is a good distance between you and him. Your hands, palms upwards, one on top of the other, should be extended as flatly as possible. Communion will then be given silently and in the hand.
• Having consumed the host, you may return to your seat to say a brief prayer of thanksgiving, after which you must leave the church (the Blessing and dismissal has already taken place).
• As you leave the church, please sanitise your hands.
• There will be baskets for you to place your offering in. If there is a 2nd Collection, there will be a basket marked as such.
• Please be aware of others and the social distancing regulations as you leave.
• Please do not congregate in the porch or outside the church.
• After you have left church it will be cleaned.
A note about Holy Communion
If you feel uncomfortable and would rather not receive Holy Communion, that is perfectly ok. Instead, you can simply make a spiritual communion. Here is a prayer to help you: -
My Jesus, I believe that You are truly 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 being already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
It will take some time for us to adapt to these changes and we may have to make little adjustments along the way, so please be patient and understanding.
I am extremely grateful to Sharon, David and Frank, who have worked very hard – and continue to do so – to make all this happen.
With every blessing,