Newsletter 14th June 2020

Cautious Re-opening of Some Churches for Private Prayer

The Archbishop has given permission for up to two churches in each Pastoral Area to open at restricted times for brief visits for individual private prayer, with strict precautions to prevent spread of the Coronavirus, including one-way systems, restricted numbers, social distancing, use of sanitisers, doors kept open for ventilation etc. Holy water, votive lights, books or leaflets will not be available. Piety stalls and toilets will be closed. Volunteer welcomers will be on hand to ensure that procedures are followed and areas are cleaned after each visit.

The Archbishop has stressed that no-one should feel obliged to come out and visit a church and some people should be encouraged to stay at home for their own safety and the safety of others, e.g. anyone who has symptoms of the virus or is living with someone who has symptoms and anyone who is in the clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable categories, as our primary concern must be the health and safety of our people, and it may be necessary to withdraw this permission at short notice if situations change. It is not appropriate for children to visit a church unless accompanied by a responsible adult.

The venues and times in our Pastoral Area will be:

Blessed Sacrament 11.00am-1.00pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
Our Lady Queen of Martyrs: 11.00am-1.00pm on Tuesday and Thursday.

As only two churches can be opened at the present time, these churches have been chosen because of their position, one either side of the East Lancashire Road, as well as their accessibility, ability to meet the health and safety conditions and tradition of being open for private prayer before the pandemic.

How to know the real value of something?  During a moment of downtime during the week I caught a bit of Flog it! on BBC2.  A lady had brought in a ‘lot’ of a matching pair of small silver Suffragette figurines.  Her personal prediction on the value of the item was about 100 pounds.  She was quite taken aback when they were estimated to make 1000 – 1500 pounds.  The value was in their quality and the importance of being together as a matching pair. 

This weekend we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  Has there ever been anything more valuable given as a gift, borne out of love and goodness? 

For many years when I went to Mass I would receive the Host and promptly walk past the person ministering the chalice.  Why?  I’m not really too sure – probably because I thought by taking the Host I had received all that I needed.  Whilst it is true that the Church teaches that the fullness of grace is transferred through either – the Body of Christ, the Precious Blood, or both – we are invited to receive both kinds of Communion which helps us to follow in the tradition of the Last Supper: ‘Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body…..Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood” (Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass).

At Seminary when studying Canon Law I was struck by the instruction that a priest, even under the most unusual circumstances, cannot celebrate Mass without both species of Communion being present.  The Body and Blood of Christ are inseparable for the celebration of Mass.

If I had my time again I would do things differently: as a member of the congregation I would wait in line to receive the Precious Blood as well.  It would be a way of imitating that special time that Jesus had with his closest friends and to take in, perhaps, even more fully, the beauty and significance of what is being offered. 

All things in life have a value attached to them but, sometimes, we see certain things in a different light when they come together as a package – it then allows us to appreciate them in a new light and, perhaps, then, their value is enhanced.  Fr Anthony