The Catholic Parish Church
96 Ness Road Shoeburyness SS3 9DH
and St Gregory's 'Chapel of Ease'
The Broadway Thorpe Bay SS1 3HH
My dear friends in Christ,
I recently watched a documentary on life in Monaco. As many of you know, Monaco is a sovereign city-state and country on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is also known as a playground for the rich and famous.
The natives of this principality are known as Monégasques, and they form a small percentage of the population. Many of them have routine jobs with average pay, living quite simple lives; a stark contrast to some of Monaco’s visitors! One of the Monégasques who was interviewed commented on the various luxuries that the rich elite enjoyed, but added, ‘they always want more; what they have is never enough.’
It is interesting that the rich elite have an abundance, yet it is not enough. Perhaps it is the wrong sort of ‘abundance’? The multiplication of food stories which we hear in the gospels are Jesus’ way of trying to tell us that there is a foundational abundance within reality, and it is an ‘abundance’ that nourishes and satisfies, as opposed to one that does not. I am sorry to say that many people on this planet live with the world view of scarcity – even Christians, who should know better. This world view of scarcity can be broader than simply not having enough money or things...there’s never enough happiness, enough joy, enough forgiveness, enough time, enough love, enough God or enough me! The focus of today’s gospel is not the miracle itself, but the foundational grace present in Jesus that makes it happen, because the realisation of foundational grace leads to the realisation of foundational abundance.
The antithesis of this – the view that there is ‘never enough’ - acts as a blockade to the flow of divine grace. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the mind struggles to imagine anything infinite or eternal. So, any notion of an infinite love (i.e. God) is extremely hard for us to grasp. Don’t worry though, we are in good company, even the apostles struggled with it – “all we have with us is five loaves and two fish” - and they were in Jesus’ company day in and day out!
I think it will always be an uphill battle for us to ‘see’ differently, to see as Jesus sees’. We have layers of cultural programming to reverse and unlearn. The challenge is in not only believing the foundational grace present in all reality, but also in allowing that grace to transform us, particularly in how we view the world.
“There is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed.” Mahatma Gandhi
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 from Monday, 6th July and will close at 12 noon on Friday (10th July). This will give you the opportunity to book for Masses on 11th, 12th, 14th & 17th July. From this will follow a routine where the booking system will be open from 13th - 17th July for Masses on 18th, 19th, 21st & 24th July…etc, etc.
It is recommended that you wear a face-covering in church, but it is not 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,