My Dear Friends,
For the 1st Reading this weekend we have a short extract from the Book of Job. This book revolves around one issue, the question of human suffering.
The book is structured as a story, of which the hero is Job. His character is laid out be-fore the reader at the very beginning of the book: ‘There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. That man was perfect and right-eous, fearing God and turning from evil.’ Aside from being a righteous man and of good character, Job had a large family and was very wealthy – he seemed to have it all! One day, as God was chatting with his courtiers in heaven, God comes across one called ‘Satan’. God was telling Satan how wonderful Job is; he is honourable, God-fearing, just and kind. Satan, ever the cynic, tells God that Job is only like that because he has a good life. If trouble were to come Job’s way all those virtues would go out of the window. God disagrees, Job is faithful, kind and God fearing because that is how he is, not because of the sort of life he has. Satan wants to prove God wrong and asks if he can ‘test’ Job. God agrees, and so Satan gets to work by sending various disasters Job’s way, including the loss of his children, the destruction of his farm, the loss of his cattle and horrific ul-cers from head to toe.
Three friends of Job arrive to sympathise with him in his pain. However, their sympathy comes with a caveat, as they pronounce that Job must have done something wrong if he is suffering! As suffering was understood as a punishment for sin, they believed that Job could not have been that virtuous! In other words, if trouble comes your way, you must have deserved it.
While Job continues to maintain his innocence, he is getting more frustrated, angry, and confused; he simply cannot make any sense of his dire predicament. Job complains to God profusely and wants answers. If he is innocent, God should acquit him. If he is guilty, God should tell him what the offense is, so that he can confess, change, and may-be end the suffering. Interestingly, God does not declare Job innocent or guilty. Instead, God changes the subject and begins to talk about the wonders of the world that God had created. God formed the earth, set its structure, put bounds to keep the sea under control (today’s gospel), created all the heavenly bodies, and even controls the weather. All through this speech, God reminds Job (using what sounds like sarcastic asides) that mere humans could never accomplish all of this. So, God’s response is a kind of ‘know your place’ speech. Thus, Job remains in the dark about why he, or any human, should suffer. And that is the point of the story, some questions in life are just unan-swerable; Job and his friends have been trying to answer a question that they can never solve. Job is ad-vised to recognize human limits and trust that God will take care of what Job and others cannot know or do.
I like the quote from Carl Jung which says, “The greatest and most im-portant problems of life are all in a certain sense, insoluble…. They can never be solved, but only out-grown…”
Have a good week,
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,