My dear parishioners, we wake up in quite a different world today, in that the freedoms we have been used to are now greatly removed from us. We know that this is for a greater good, and for charity’s sake, albeit with real inconvenience for some, we accept what must be carried out for each other’s good. In a sense we are being called in this time to live the essence of sacrificial love so central to our Catholic Faith, so central to the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, and, of course, so central to this holy season of Lent.
Self-denial, self-sacrifice, as much as those things rail against our fallen nature which often seeks its own ends, its own perceived good, challenge that deeply ingrained weakness of ours. But this self-sacrifice allows for an openness to God, an openness to others, and to a freedom (which might seem ironic at the moment).
When we let go of our selfishness we can receive from God, because we cease to cling to all those other things that we think are important but really aren’t. When we let go of clinging to those things we can also offer them (especially the material things) to benefit others rather than guarding them for ourselves. And when we have discovered the freedom from being attached then we can be free to be with God, free to allow Him to be the true Lord of our lives. I think that in this current crisis we will have to let go of much, and yet, please God, I’m sure we will discover the freedom of knowing what is of true value, and that to which we should be attached: God, and love of neighbour (as Christ commands us), and all other things will, hopefully, be put into their proper perspective.
If we are open to them, I believe that we will receive many graces from God in this period: graces of prayer, conversion, trust, humility, detachment, the growing of family bonds, the sense of relying upon the Lord for all things, to name but a few. In the company of the Lord, this stripping back, and even this involuntary confinement, can be seen as on opportunity for a spiritual home-based retreat, where many of the noises, distractions and interruptions of the world have been taken away. So let us try, with God’s help, to see the positive aspects of what is happening, when all the time we are well aware of the sad, painful, and devastating things that are going on.
In this time of prayer, reflection, and “retreat” we should be holding up before the Lord in prayer all those people who need to continue working, and especially those whose health may be at risk, too, because of the essential tasks they perform in our society. Pray every day for an end to this pandemic, pray for the sick, the dying, the faithful departed, and those who mourn their loss. May God increase in us the spirit of prayer, sacrifice, and intercession, and enable us to be instruments of His Divine Love even at a distance, through prayer or words of consolation on the telephone, or through encouraging emails and text messages.
I will be saying Holy Mass each day during the week at 10.00a.m. behind close doors and at 9.30a.m. on Sunday likewise. While you cannot join me physically for the Holy Sacrifice please join with me spiritually through your prayers and especially the Holy Rosary. Tomorrow will be the Feast of the Annunciation, the wonderful announcement of the coming of the Saviour, and the call of Our Blessed Lady to be the Mother of God. Why not make a special effort to pray the joyful mysteries of the Rosary tomorrow and consecrate again yourselves and your loved ones, and indeed the people of our nation and the world, to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
St. James and St. Matthew, pray for us!
God bless you all, Fr. Martin