As never before! This Friday evening 23 parishioners met to take part in following in the footsteps of Jesus to Calvary. We gazed at the 14 depictions of the Passion of Our Lord as we sang and prayed our way around them. It was a bit more noisy than usual because we are still learning how to use the Video Conferencing software, but it was a tremendous achievement from zero. I hadn’t heard of the software until last week. Many thanks to Rev Alan Mair for putting together the PowerPoint slides and providing the voice-over and meditations. He’ll be back next Friday at the same time, and meanwhile I’m going to have to raise my Stational game for the next meeting on Monday at 10:00am. I hope that we have even more of you joining us! Invitations are by email from our existing groups. If you want to join, email your permission and we will send you the GDPR form and count you in.
Bishops of England and Wales
18th March 2020
Wherever possible, during this period, churches will remain open, especially on Sundays, for individual private prayer, without any organised services, and offering prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Baptisms should be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can gather safely. In case of necessity, baptisms should be celebrated with all the hygiene precautions that have been laid down by the Church in its COVID-19 advice.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Confession may be offered on request as long as hygiene and social distancing requirements are observed (eg a physical barrier between the penitent and the priest such as a grille and cloth). The use of Rite II and Rite III of the Rite of Penance is not permitted as this, by necessity, requires the gathering of people in our churches.
First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion
These celebrations should be postponed until a time that allows for families and friends to gather safely within our churches.
The celebrations of Confirmation should be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can resume public worship.
If possible, the celebration of the sacrament of Matrimony should be deferred until such time that people can gather in numbers safely. However, if this is not possible and only in the most pressing of circumstances, then those present for the marriage should be restricted to the celebrant, bride and groom and immediate family, and if necessary, the legal Registrar.
Anointing of the Sick
No pastoral visits should be made to people who are self-isolating until the isolation period ends. However, do offer phone support. When anointing the sick, the Oil of the Sick can be applied using a cotton bud which can be burned afterwards (one end for the head and the other for the hands) and the priest extend his hands over the sick person for laying on of hands, without physical contact. This has been confirmed as a valid mode of celebrating the sacraments which involve “laying on of hands.” Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.
Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil
This will be dependent on the forthcoming decisions of the Bishops for the Holy Week ceremonies.
There must be great pastoral sensitivity to this issue. The funeral service should take place at the graveside or at a crematorium, subject to the conditions laid down by the cemetery or crematorium authorities. Arrangements should be made for a Mass to be celebrated in memoriam when congregations are allowed to gather.
A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales
A Summary of Key Points :
- No gathering for public acts of worship from Friday evening, 20th March.
- Our churches remain open. Observe rules of hygiene and social distancing.
- The celebration of all Sunday and daily Masses will take place without a public congregation.
- Watch Mass at home on the internet or TV. Follow the prayers.
- Make an act of Spiritual Communion.
- The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed.
- Be attentive to the needs of the vulnerable. Help includes: contributing to food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives; keeping in touch.
- The rhythm of prayer will continue.
At St Anne Line:
- I will say the public Masses allocated for Thursday and Friday of this week in accordance with the instructions above.
- I will continue to say a private daily Mass in church after that. Why? Because as St Pio of Pietrelcina said: ”It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.”
- This article sums up many good points on this subject.
- Each Mass will be for the intentions already allocated and any you request in the future. Please keep them coming in. They will be listed day-by-day on the newsletter without timings.
- There are video-streamed Masses in the diocese at Leigh on Sea. There are many other churches which do this throughout the world. For the Extraordinary Form, try the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter where you will find a choice of beautiful Masses from around the world. We have a copy of the act of Spiritual Communion here.
- I am bound to say the prayer of the Church and I prefer to say it in church.
- Confession will continue to be available: best to check first.
- The Anointing of the sick and Holy Communion for the sick will continue, with extra precautions.
- The self-isolating will not be able to Receive these Sacraments at this time.
- We are compiling a list of those who may need support. Please look out for parishioners when “social distancing” might lead to loneliness.
- Taking inspiration from the “self-isolating postcards”, we need volunteers to pop our version of these through 1000 letterboxes with an Easter message.
- As parishioners call with, or send in, their needs, we will need volunteers who will help.
- We will need a coordinator or two to help handle these activities.
- Please contact the office if you’d like to help with any of these tasks.
- Catechetical and study activities will cease from today. We will just have to see when we can pick them up again. Don’t forget your spiritual needs!
- Marriage Preparation will continue. Contact the office.
- If you can think of any way we can help those whose children will not be at school from next week, please forward your suggestions!