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Churches Reopening for Private Prayer

Dear sisters and brothers,

As you may have heard, from Monday 15th June 2020 churches in England are being allowed to open for private prayer.  The churches across Luton have identified times at which they hope to facilitate this opening, ensuring that the government’s directives can be fulfilled, such as the need for stewards, social distancing, appropriate PPE, etc.  A full list of those times of opening are available at Pastoral Area Churches Opening Times.  Here at St Martin de Porres Church we hope to open each Saturday from 1pm to 4pm for a time of Eucharistic Adoration starting on 20th June.  The only thing that may delay this is if we haven’t been able to source the resources required.

While there will not yet be the opportunity to receive Holy Communion, the church does encourage us to continue in our spiritual communion, and there will be an opportunity to do this in the presence of the Eucharist for those who would like to and are able to at this time. In the teaching of the Catechism on Adoration, which quotes Pope St. Paul VI we read “Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honoured with the worship of adoration.  ‘To visit the Blessed Sacrament is… a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord’ (Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei 66)” (CCC 1418).

Sadly, while this is a wonderful opportunity, we will all need to adhere to restrictions similar to those that many of us have experienced when going to the supermarket or elsewhere, reflecting the directives received from government agencies.  This means that we will have to act in the following ways.

  • If a queue needs to form outside the church, the two metre social distancing rule should be applied.
  • If you have cold or flu like symptoms when you arrive you will not be allowed to enter.
  • Only eleven people will be allowed access to the church at a given time, and the seating will have to remain as laid out, even though it may feel impersonal.
  • Our hands will need to be sanitised as we enter and as we leave the church, using the sanitisers provided.
  • Depending on the day, you may find the church cool as all doors and windows have to be opened to allow thorough ventilation and to minimise touch.
  • We will not be able to use the kneelers or to kneel on the sanctuary steps, to pray at or touch the images and statues around the church, to light votive candles, to go into the Lady Chapel, to access holy water or to use the toilets. Basically, movement and touch has to be kept to a minimum.
  • No individual or household can lead an act of public worship or devotion, such as the rosary or a litany. We are restricted purely to personal prayer.
  • Each person is required to take any item that they bring with them out of the church when they leave.
  • The Church will be accessed from the car park as usual, but we will be using the exit onto the main road as the way out.
  • If there is a queue to come into the church we will be asking you to spend no more than ten minutes in prayer to allow others their opportunity.
  • The directives state that no one under 16 can come to pray without an accompanying adult being with them.
  • The government also advises those who are 70 or over, and those who are shielding, not to attend, but access will not be denied if that’s a risk you choose to take.
  • Those bringing children need to ensure that they remain in the seat provided, and enable an atmosphere of calm to be maintained so that others can pray.
  • Stewards will be in attendance throughout to ensure that directives are adhered to, as otherwise we as a church – and churches across England – may be denied permission to open in the future. Sadly, they will not be able to assist you unless in an emergency.

Please accept my apologies if this exciting step, of being able to come to the church to pray, feels horribly restricted, but I’m afraid that it’s what we have to do as we move forward.  And I pray that your time of prayer, if and when you come, is truly blessed.

With every blessing.

Fr Simon