We are living through uncertain times. I am certainly feeling it right through to my bones. The difficulty with this is that a lot of things we would like to be “normal” to offer us a sense of control, are also not achievable…. This run up to Christmas will be very different. We are planning as best we can – but we will need to wait for Government guidance on what is possible or not. We continue to stream live – and we will add lots of stuff for Advent and Christmas… We can’t have our Fair – a real shame. But we can continue to help others through our actions…..
Advent and Christmas Action We are collecting in Church and in the Presbytery for three things:
1) Christmas Raffle We are asking for donations for the Christmas Raffle. 5 prizes will be put together from what we gather… 1 A TV…. 2 A food hamper 3 A drinks hamper 4 A smellies hamper 5 Some high street vouchers. Anything we don’t use for prizes will be used for Caritas – locally and on a Diocesan level.
2) Our Caritas Collection We are collecting to support the Diocese of Salford Caritas They need the following items…. • Cereals • Tinned Soups and Stew • Pasta, rice and pasta sauce. • Tinned meat or fish, beans and frozen vegetables and fruit. • Long life milk or natural fruit juices. • Liquid hand soaps, sanitisers and personal hygiene products. We will make sure we make provision for local families before passing on the goods to Caritas.
3) Our Crib Collection We are collecting money donations for three Charities we support every year at this time. Frances House, Derian House and the Mother and Baby Unit close by. This will be a crib collection. You can donate in the collection bucket at the crib, we have envelopes you can use – or you can donate online on our website.
Please give what you can – we will do the rest…… Just dump it on our doorstep…
It was certainly a shock to me – as I imagine it was to many of you – when we were forced to close our doors for common worship again in this second national lockdown. We had worked hard to make our Church COVID – Secure – and I think we had done a great job. Those of you who know me, know that I do tend to compliance. This time it was hard.
The key for me was the solidarity with many other organisations whose closure and whose sacrifice, to bring down the number of infections and consequent deaths, was really necessary. I certainly had no wish to be moving to the “celebration” of Christmas with a death toll higher than it normally would be at this time of year… For us life is sacred. This is not a political post, or a rant. There is a definite need for dialogue within society about the role of Churches. On the other hand there is need for dialogue amongst ourselves about what role faith plays in our daily lives. For me two major focuses on what is “essential” for us – and what makes us essential to society at large – are Eucharist and community. Of course we know the Mass going population has been decreasing over the last years – but Eucharist is “essential”. The same can be said of our social life and social action – but community is “essential.”
There is a great opportunity as we move toward the greatest festival of the year to share with one another and to learn the lessons of an incredibly different year. With that we too may experience a “new birth” of our faith in the love of the Eucharist and the joy of belonging to a community.
We are moving into the month of November, traditionally a month where we “remember”.
The month begins with the feast of All Saints. We raise our eyes to heaven and look to the example of those lives that shine a light on the way of life that we are all called too. There is of course the diversion of Halloween – that comes from Hallow or Holy and certainly is to do with more than ghosts.
All Souls is one of the most emotive days of our calendar. We think of the souls in heaven or on their way, our prayer for them and their prayer for us. God places people in our lives, they all mean a great deal and it is good to take stock.
This of course has the twofold call for us to look at how we are living our lives, and a reminder that each day counts.
November also sees us remember the fallen of the wars, Remembrance Sunday. The playing of the Last Post is something that demands reflection and gratitude. That Last Post will not be missing from our celebrations amid all the external restrictions that we are living through right now.
I think November does talk to us in a special way – but it is a reminder to make our conversations count. Life has great meaning. How important is it for us to speak to and support one another on our journey of life. To rise to the challenges and to be reminded that we are not alone.
We have wanted to ensure faith and not fear is the guide for us on our journey through this pandemic. A key to this is to take time away from the noise of the news and turn to activities that can help us deepen and broaden that faith – a faith that can be challenged.
We want to have a conversation with each other and with the Gospels of this month of November. Two great sources for us to find what faith is all about in these times. The Bible and our faith community.
Join us in that conversation – or have that conversation with friends and family….
It certainly does not always feel that way – but we are blessed. It’s really important for us to check our perspective again and again. I don’t know about you, but I certainly get moved off track by the noise of the current situation – but we are blessed. Certainly in our little community there are intentions upon intentions for people in really difficult situations – but we are blessed.
We are blessed that we have this community of sharing and caring. We are blessed that we can practice our faith. We are blessed because we have the resources to reach out and help.
Evening Blessing Am not sure if you are aware, but there is a growing group of people that check in very quickly with each other at 9 pm Tuesday to Sunday. They gather on Facebook and Youtube for a quick evening prayer and blessing. It’s great, especially at the end of the day to wind down and turn once again to God. It’s great at the end of the day to be reminded that no one needs to be alone – even in these most difficult of times.
Join us on Facebook – @stvincentbolton – @schoenstattfamilyengland – @frandrewpastore….
As the tech gets better – so do we. Over the next few weeks I will be inviting other priests to join me and share their blessing with us all….
Adult Formation Each year we have two blocks of evening sessions to deepen our faith. This year we are not going to follow a specific program, we will turn simply to the Sunday Gospel. Each Wednesday from 7-8pm in November, you are invited to join me in a conversion about the Gospel of the coming Sunday. Sharing our impressions and delving deeper into what this Gospel is saying to us today. All welcome.
If you are looking for our November List – CLICK HERE
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