25th Week of Ordinary Time – Year A

Hello again,

With even further limitations on activity being introduced in order to combat the pandemic more effectively – at least , that is the expectation , and we continue to do our best to keep everyone safe.

From other pages on today’s website you will see that this weekend coincides with the Jewish festival of ‘Rosh Hashanah’ , which begins the ‘Ten High Holy Days’ , also known as the ‘Days of Awe’ , leading up to the Holiest Day in the Jewish calendar, ‘YOM KIPPUR’ , (also called the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths’) which will commence at sunset next Sunday , 27th September.

It is good for us to remember that Jesus of Nazareth , as a devout and pious Jewish man , celebrated these days with due solemnity and joy , at the same time in His Person , inaugurating the definitive moment in the unfolding of salvation history , when the God who has acted so decisively throughout Israel’s formative centuries of living by the Covenant established through Moses at Sinai , assumes human form and offers us the possibility of being fully human and fully alive.

Today’s Second Reading from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is the introduction to what is probably the most ancient Christian hymn that has come down to us :

“His state was divine ,
yet He did not cling
to His equality with God
but emptied Himself
to assume the condition of a slave ,
and became as men are :
and being as all men are ,
He was humbler yet ,
even to accepting death ,
death on a Cross.
But God raised Him high
and gave Him the name
which is above all other names…….”

[Phil. 2 : 6ff]

In the Longer Version of next Sunday’s Second Reading , we are given the whole of this great ‘Christological Hymn’ , which St. Paul incorporates into his Letter to the small group of Christians at Philippi.

This Sunday’s First Reading is taken from the scroll of Second Isaiah , and scattered about in the body of the work , we also find four songs / poems that were inserted into the text , and now carry the collective title ‘The Songs of the Suffering Servant of God’. They do not figure in today’s Reading , but I mention them to highlight the same thought process that would be used by Paul over half a millennium later.

At the time the ‘Songs of the Suffering Servant’ were composed , which had to be prior to the middle of the sixth century before the time of Our Lord , the identity of this completely innocent , guiltless , devout , self-sacrificing individual was unknown. At that time , maybe the figure was drawn as the perfect example of the person who lives the Commandments of God to the highest degree – to the point of costing ‘not less than everything’ , and only in the fullness of time , when the unravelling of salvation history made it possible , with the Incarnation of Jesus the Christ of God , would we be able to come to discern more fully the Divine dispensation ; to be able to understand the words of Second Isaiah we hear today , “my thoughts are not your thoughts , my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks…………”

We seek to continue to ‘sing’ these ‘ancient-ever-new-Songs’ – despite the prohibition imposed by the pandemic – in the conduct daily life.

STREAMING :

A camera will be installed in St. Mary’s this week , along with the associated paraphernalia that goes with it , which will allow us to ‘broadcast’ Mass and other Services into the homes of those Parishioners who have the necessary software to pick up the signal. All being well , the plan is to begin ‘streaming’ Sunday Mass on 4th October , at 11.00 am. ‘sharp’ – more or less…………………………

A lot depends on getting the legally required licence to operate the system – but this seems to be a minor problem. The cost of the whole package runs to a little short of £1,700 , and we have been assured of assistance from ‘central funds’.

If everything goes smoothly , the following week I hope we can stream a Vigil Mass , at the usual time of 6.00 pm. , on Saturday 10th October.

PLEASE NOTE , this Vigil Mass will have to be celebrated WITHOUT A CONGREGATION as we do not have the Stewards to attend this Mass , something demanded by current requirements. This means that at the moment the church building cannot be ‘deep cleaned’ in time for the Sunday morning ‘limited numbers’ Mass.

PLEASE NOTE , for the same reasons outlined above , there cannot be provision made to allow Parishioners to ‘book’ seats in order to participate at any proposed Vigil Mass , until circumstances change with regard to Stewarding and the cleaning of the church.

Having heard that we are now going to have to endure the current situation until NEXT SPRING (!) at least , it is only right that this ‘streaming’ facility should be offered , as an inadequate but necessary compromise. Furthermore , who knows whether much more rigorous restrictions will be enacted in the coming months , especially with regard to the limited numbers who can attend Mass at the moment ?

Surely this compromise initiative will be of help during the Christmas season , when there is always a far larger number of People at all the Masses ? Someone has suggested that all Christmas Masses should be without a congregation , in order to be even-handed to everyone ? We will never reach a consensus , but it would be good to hear your views.

REFRESHED WEBSITE :

This is also well in hand. I have been told by those undertaking the work that things are in their final stages , with the possibility of the refurbished site being up and running this week or the next.

An idea has been put forward that Parish Groups could be offered a ‘page’ on the site , to pass on information to the rest of us. It was also suggested that a ‘Children’s Page’ might be provided ? Does anyone want to add to the debate ?

PARISH FUNDS :

For the first time since 16th March , the Collection was counted and taken to the bank last week , (15/09/20). Here is a resume for you :

ST. MARY’S £1,891 – 00
ST. PAUL’S £1,173 – 40
CAFOD £4 – 00

Many thanks to those Parishioners who ‘saved up’ their envelopes during the intervening months and brought them to Mass.

Many thanks to those Parishioners who have made arrangements with their banks to have their Offerings entered into the Parish Account by that method.

Many thanks to those Parishioners who have renewed or continued their Direct Debits/Standing Orders through this troublesome period.

Many thanks to Parishioners for so many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness at all times.

May Almighty God continue to Bless us All , and may we continue to keep one another in our prayers.

Fr. Michael