Home » A Letter from Fr Simon Regarding the Bishops’ Conference Decision to Temporarily Suspend Public Worship

A Letter from Fr Simon Regarding the Bishops’ Conference Decision to Temporarily Suspend Public Worship

Dear sister and brother parishioners,

As we are all very aware of now, on 20th March, in response to the spread of the Coronavirus and in order to protect the elderly and vulnerable in our parishes, the Bishops of England and Wales asked that all public gatherings in churches, including Sunday Masses, be temporarily suspended. As such, we are no longer having Mass celebrated publicly in St Martin de Porres Church on either weekdays or at weekends until further notice. This applies also to all public times of worship such as Adoration, as well as to all Sacramental Programmes. Similarly, Baptisms won’t take place, unless it’s an emergency, and Funerals will be simple services either at the graveside or in the crematorium, with Masses offered for deceased loved ones once the crisis has passed. Sadly, Reconciliation is not available either and, as it is not safe these days to keep our churches open all day and unmanned, they will need to remain closed in the mean-time. For advice on weddings, Confirmation and First Holy Communion, please have a read of the “Liturgical Advice for the Bishops of England and Wales in the light of the COVID-19 Pandemic” (see https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/39156). Communion visits to the sick and housebound will also need to cease for the time being in order to protect an already vulnerable group, but could I ask those who make Holy Communion visits to please keep in touch with them over the phone.

NB: To see Cardinal Vincent Nichols deliver a personal message on the decisions made please go to https://youtu.be/vbZ0_x__Cxc or to read the written statement go to https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2020.03.18-PUBLIC-LETTER-FROM-THE-PRESIDENCY-CBCEW.pdf

While this is a very challenging time for us as a parish community, it is nevertheless an opportunity to grow deeper in our faith in other ways, such as, for example, becoming more familiar with the scriptures. An inspiring definition of L.O.C.K.D.O.W.N. is that it can be a time to:

L-isten to God’s Voice and reflect. Let go and Let God.
O-bey His word and His teachings.
C-all on Jesus’ name and be Calm.
K-now that God is with us and will never abandon us.
D-well in His presence. Do not panic.
O-ffer a prayer for everyone’s safety.
W-ait and be patient. This too, shall pass.
N-urture our personal relationship with Him.

I will continue to celebrate a private Mass for the intentions of the Parish every day (including Saturdays and Sundays) at 10am, and I would invite you at home to join with me in prayer at that time if you can, pondering the readings for the Mass that day if possible, and uniting your personal intentions to the offering of the daily Mass in what is referred to as ‘Spiritual Communion’. These webpages may of use in relation to this:

https://www.cbcew.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2020/03/No-Mass-A4.pdf

https://www.lentinisolation.com/

If it is not possible for you to do this at 10am each day, then you can still unite your prayers to the daily Mass whenever you have a chance to pray (time is not a problem with God who created it and exists outside of it!). By doing this, you will be continuing to exercise your “common priesthood” in which all the baptised share, and through which we are all called to pray for our world, country, parish, family, and for those who may have no one to pray for them as well as for all who have died.

There will also be the opportunity to participate from home in Masses that are live-streamed via the internet from Northampton Cathedral (see https://northamptondiocese.org/live/) or from The National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham (see http://www.walsingham.org.uk/live-stream).

Also of help may be websites such as “Universalis” (see http://universalis.com/), which has the Liturgy of the Hours and Readings for Mass each day, and “Sacred Space” (see https://www.sacredspace.ie/), which takes one prayerfully through the Gospel of the day.

Each Sunday I will be emailing out a reflection on the readings of the day to all those on our e-mailing list. If you would like to be added to this please let me know at priest.stmartindeporres@northamptondiocese.org

As well as the power of prayer, we can look out for others practically through phone calls and acts of practical service, such as contributing to food banks and obtaining necessities for those who cannot get out to obtain them for themselves. This is a time when we need to especially, as a parish family, all keep an eye out for one another!

Let’s keep in mind that the reason for all these temporary changes is to protect those who are most vulnerable, many of whom are in our own parish family. And while these days we are living in at the moment are uncertain and difficult, let’s also in faith see them as a time of great opportunity through which the Lord will be able to do marvellous things in us and through us, and bring many people back to the basics, to what’s most important in this life, indeed, back to Himself!

Finally, as much as I would like to avoid mentioning finances at this time, I do need to bring to your attention the fact that because a large majority of income for parishes comes from the Sunday collection, church income will significantly reduce as a result of the current ban on public liturgies. Considering there are 69 parishes in our diocese, this is magnified greatly for our diocese as a whole. While I will endeavour to keep parish outgoings as low as possible, please could I ask those parishioners who can afford it at this time, and do not currently give by Standing Order, to consider donating online.

Option 1: This can be done via the Diocesan website which can be found at https://northamptondiocese.org/donate/ Follow the instructions on the Catholic Diocese of Northampton Virgin money giving page.  If you use this option we ask that you please indicate in the notes section that the donation is for “St Martin de Porres, Luton”.  Please note that there is the facility to Gift Aid any donations made to the parish.

Option 2: You can set up a standing order for donations to the parish using your online bank account. The information required to make the donation is as follows.

Bank: NatWest

Sort Code: 60-06-11

Account Number: 46898093

Account Name: Northampton Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust

Payment Ref: St Martin de Porres, Luton

Thank you for any help you can give.

With every blessing,

Fr Simon

One final thought. Please keep an eye on this website. If I can work out how to do it, I will post helpful information and resources there and any updates that may be released for our benefit.

Fr Simon Penhalagan
Parish Priest
St Martin de Porres Roman Catholic Church, Luton