6th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 14th February 2021
Bishop Richard has offered to celebrate the 10am Ash Wednesday morning mass for us and Fr Kevin Dring, of the Seminary, the evening mass at St Thomas More. That is wonderful news and means that we can get Lent off to a good, proper start. If you would like to attend in person rather than watch on the livestream please sign up. By now you should know what to do and how to do it.
Fr David’s Message for the Week
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I feel that these readings for the 6th Sunday of the Year are very apposite considering the way ‘things’ are and, in my case at least, from a personal perspective, relevant to what is going on in my own life. I think we sometimes forget all too easily that disease and infection is a huge burden to communities and to all life in general. From crop failure and subsequent famine to epidemics that could sweep through whole communities leaving devastation, and fear and a ‘closing in’ of life in their wake. The only thing that could be done was to hope and pray, and in some cases, to totally exclude the sufferers from the life of the community. Nowadays we have somewhat different expectations – that “they” will provide a solution and fix things quick – something not always possible as we can see all too well. Thus, we see the admonition of Moses about what to do if a case of leprosy was suspected and the cautious, yet daring, approach of the leper towards Jesus in the gospel. And what we are all in ‘lockdown’ although how we came by that terribly inaccurate term is beyond me!
Leprosy was, and still is in some parts of the world, a fearful and disfiguring disease. It is a long slow tortuous death and, I imagine, particularly horrible to watch if you are the family of a sufferer knowing that there is nothing in your power to cure it. Nowadays, with enough political will and money a cure can relatively easily be found and administered. But in Jesus time, to be a leper meant a future with no hope, no community except your fellow outcasts, no compassion from others because of the fear of contracting the disease, and also no religion because of being excluded from the worship of the community. It was, in short, a living death.
A good part of the good news of the gospel is that it is aimed at precisely this ‘spot’ in human living and relationships. Even if your community, for good reason has excluded you, God in Jesus Christ has not, and will not. In fact, rather than shrinking back from you God, in Jesus, reaches out to you and touches you and so begins the road to healing and the reconstitution of community and inclusion.
God’s very own life, as we understand it as Christians, is one of community – or better a communion of love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God reaches out in love to all and invites us into relationship but as we say, especially to the excluded and marginalised. Does this mean that the well, well off, and those surrounded with friends in this life are ignored by God? No, that is not to be thought of. Rather it is that those in the latter categories often have no perceived need of God in the way that the sick and outcast have who are longing to be noticed and valued. And Jesus does just exactly that.
But, we are all sick to some extent. Not, to be sure, with leprosy, or even COVID, necessarily. But we are all estranged from our origin who is God and until God fills that hole there is a huge ‘gap’ in our lives which only God can fill. The fact that it is God who fills it is important because we so often try to fill that ‘God gap’ with things other than God – but because they cannot reconnect us to our proper origin and end they leave us feeling empty and, as we say, dispirited. Only God will do, and only Jesus brings that same God to us. Lent is an opportunity for some spring cleaning of all that clobber that so often gets in the way and blocks us off from God. Let us get rid of the blockages and open up our lives to a new experience of God’s love this Lent. God has great plans for you, and you are invited!
Invited. Lent 2021 – The Mission Begins.
Momentum is building towards Invited, the Diocesan Mission. Hundreds of people are signing up for the Diocesan conversations, and many others are looking forward to exploring the materials in already established Parish groups.
This worship song has been specially commissioned for the mission, and has been composed and recorded by One Hope Project, a wonderful Catholic Worship Band.
You can find the Invited theme on YouTube https://youtu.be/-43A-X6aOcw
God loves you. He has great plans for you. He wants to accompany you through all the highs and lows of your life. There will soon be an opportunity for you to explore all this and more as we journey together as a Diocese through a season of mission.
Visit www.abdiocese.org.uk/invited to find out more. You, are Invited.
The Diocesan Formation Team is hosting a mission for you this Lent. It will be the first of five seasons of mission, helping you to explore God’s Invitation to live your life with him.
What is a mission? An opportunity for everyone in the parish to sit back and reflect on the content provided. Season one is a series of programmes that help us to understand exactly how much we are loved by God, and features guest speakers such as David Wells, Eleanor Oliver and David Beresford. You will then be able to join a virtual conversation to meet like minded people and discuss what you have learnt.
Visit www.abdiocese.org.uk/invited to find out more.
You, are Invited.
Hello all. I hope you are well and virus free. Here is a report which Fr Sean sent me about the violence at his largest outstation, Chesawach, which he has been preparing to become a Parish in its own right in due course. He asks us to keep him and his people in our prayers.
Best wishes. Eugene
Extremely hot here these days. 40C + most days. Security situation has been at an all time low. I was at an outstation, Chesawach last Sunday near where the situation had been very bad. I was prepared to find a very few if any parishioners as I thought they might either have moved or been afraid to meet in a group. To my surprise I found a fine crowd singing away. Eventually about 40. I had brought them a few sacks of food for which they were more than grateful. Suppliers are refusing to go there. My catechist’s shop and Maize mill were destroyed.
Things are now getting quiet again. We pray it stays that way. God bless. Sean
Ladywell Convent are recruiting for Pastoral Lead
This is a unique and special opportunity to be directly involved and to interact with sisters in their twilight years offering them the spiritual, emotional and practical support they need. Effective and sensitive listening and communication skills alongside creating right relationships lie at the heart of this role. It will require a capacity, in partnership with others, to manage, lead and support change both strategically and in a ‘hands-on’ way.
For a full Job Description and Person Specification please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of Alton Day of Renewal
We are continuing our 2021 Programme: “ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT” which is in response to the invitation from Pope Francis “I ask all of you that you organise seminars to share Baptism in the Spirit.” Our programme this year explores how the Holy Spirit inspires and empowers us to be missionary disciples. More details on the ADoRE website www.altonrenewal.com
The next session is on February 27th, 10.00-13.00: “Salvation” God sent his Son Jesus to give you new life through his death and resurrection. Jesus is your Lord and Saviour. Speaker: Fr Paul Leonard, Parish Priest at Sacred Heart, Hook and Mass celebrant at Celebrate Southampton Conference.
Please register in advance at bit.ly/ADOREFEB2021
Please also note ADoRE is offering confidential prayer for healing by telephone Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Experienced prayer ministers will pray with you confidentially for your needs. Thank you and may God bless you abundantly.
Please find below and attached information regarding upcoming online events at The Open Cloister at Worth Abbey,
Christian-Muslim Friendship: 12th-14th February (online weekend retreat)
Led by Fr Martin McGee OSB (a monk of Worth Abbey)
Finding Silence 2: The Prayer of Meditation (online day retreat)
Saturday 20th February – 9am-4:30pm
Led by Fr Peter Williams OSB (a monk of Worth Abbey)
The Lent Journey: (online weekend retreat)
Led by Fr Peter Williams OSB
Places can be booked online at https://worth.co.uk/retreats/online-retreats
St Cuthbert Mayne invite all Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and Godparents! The perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your loved ones to enter our 7 day balloon race, testing everyone’s knowledge on maps, wind speed, wind direction, and science! Buy your balloon activation codes here: https://ecoracing.co/user/page/1318
It’s a fund raising event and a bit of half term fun. For each balloon activated at a cost of £3 each, £2.70 will be raised for the school.