Twenty Fourth Sunday

Today’s readings, and particularly our Gospel reading, really challenge my concept of mercy and forgiveness. And the reason for this is because of the sting in the tail, ‘And that is how my Heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother (and sister) from your heart’.

When I look back over my life, I can honestly say that I don’t harbour a grudge against anyone, even when I feel I’ve been wronged in the past, so it would be relatively easy for me to pat myself on the back, trick the box and say, ‘ well, that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about’. But…although I’ve had my fair share of dramas in my life, nothing truly awful has happened that has tested my notion of forgiveness.

For example, I have not had a friend, or family member murdered. I have not been subject to, nor have any of my family, violent crime. I have never been witness to heinous, or barbaric acts of savagery. And yet, still without this, every so often I still sense an air of injustice within me for past experiences in my life. So if even I struggle with these feelings, then how impossible must it be for those who have been victim to truly traumatic injustice. And is Jesus saying that for those who can’t forgive in these circumstances, they will be handed over to the torturers?

When I was involved with the hospital chaplaincy, I visited someone who had been stabbed by a total stranger whilst he was out for the evening. There was no altercation or disagreement, a stranger just came up to him and stabbed him in the stomach. It happened months before but, for whatever reason, the wound wouldn’t heal and they had to keep it open. Needless to say, he was in constant pain and had lost months of his life and who knows for how much longer. The culprit was caught and jailed and the prison contacted the victim to ask whether he would receive a letter of remorse and apology from the attacker. But he refused and told me that he just wasn’t ready to forgive yet. I have never seen someone in so much turmoil; he wanted to forgive but he couldn’t.

And therein, in my opinion, lies the key. He WANTED to forgive. Our readings, albeit rather bluntly, point to a truth. That holding onto anger and hate hurts us, not the person it’s aimed at, but us. Wanting vengeance will hurt us, it will eat us, and it will change us and our relationship with God and with those around us.

But if we seek to forgive, no matter how impossible we think it might be, then we have started treading a path, a path that will be longer for some than others, and perhaps even a path that we’ll never quite finish, but regardless, it’s the path to reconciliation. And we won’t be alone. Jesus will walk beside us, because when he said from the cross, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’, as a consequence of taking away our sins, he forgave FOR us, on our behalf.

So when we decide to take that first step, we will be opening ourselves to the healing power of Jesus, allowing him to work in our lives, and not only asking that he forgives us our trespasses, but also that he gives us the grace we need to tread the path to forgive those who trespass against us

The Assumption

One of the constancies in Holy Scripture is that the vast majority of characters that we hear about have only fleeting appearances and we are told very little about them. Some have names, Zacchaeus for example, and some don’t, the woman at the well. It’s tempting to look on these people as ‘bit players’ in the overall scheme of the Good News because we don’t know anything about their lives. But I actually think we know more about these bit players than we realise, because most of them, in some way or another, are us…you or me; we can replace their names, or lack of them, with our own. If we look at them like this, then all of a sudden, these characters are fleshed out, they have names, hopes and dreams, a past and a future. They are not just insignificant minor players, but they become important, loved, children of God.

We don’t even know much about what we might consider the ‘important’ people, the apostles for example. But what about Mary, our blessed Mother; do we know anything about her? We’re told more about her than most, admittedly, and yet we still don’t know that much about her and especially on the events that ended her earthly life.

How can we discern, then, the qualities that Mary possessed? They say that actions speak louder than words, but in this case the words of Mary point to her actions, they say many things about how Mary lived her life.

Every single word that Mary speaks in her Magnificat points to God. Even when she talks of herself, it is with all praise and glory to God. Her very soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, her spirit exults in God…not exults God, but exults IN God. A subtle play on words, you might think, but no. She exults in the knowledge of God, she’s enthused, excited, her soul is intertwined with the presence of God.

So from this, what can we know of Mary, what can we discern from her words? Well, she is devout; her trust in God is absolute; she has a close personal relationship with God; she understands that God is timeless, creator, merciful, loving; and she knows that he works throughout history in the lives of his people. From this, we can deduce that her greatest grace was humility. We can also say with certainty that our Blessed Mother Mary was a very, very special person, not just as the mother of our Lord, but as a human being…a humble, loving, gentle, beautiful human being.

So could we insert our own name in place of Mary, as we could Zacchaeus for example? Perhaps sometimes. Those who have lost loved ones will know something of the pain that Mary went through; when we are moved to perform acts of humility, perhaps we can join those moments with Mary’s humility; when we receive the consolation of God, we might begin to understand her relationship with him a little better.

But what we can draw in bucketful’s, both as a Church and as individuals, is inspiration. The inspiration to get to know God better, the inspiration to practise our humility, and the inspiration to see God working in the world, the lives of others, and in our own lives. And we can do this by doing what Mary did so beautifully, by letting every single thing we do, or say, point to God.

Deacon Anthony

Homily for 18th Sunday

Two beautiful readings today, especially from Isaiah; “Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk”. And then we hear about Jesus feeding the 5000, again without cost. Now, we know that these readings are working at two levels. On the one hand they’re referring to spiritual gifts whereby food and drink is the love, generosity, and life giving Word of God. On the other hand, they’re pointing to food and drink as bodily sustenance, a free gift from God as fruits of the earth or, as in our Gospel reading, a true miracle.

Fr Mark has talked about the collaboration between God and his people before, where Jesus could have just created the food the disciples were to hand out to the people. But instead, he chose to take what they had, five loaves and two fish, working with them to bring a slice of the Kingdom here on earth. The pivotal words here are the words of Jesus; “give them something to eat yourselves”. Looking at a crowd of 5000 (not forgetting the women and children), the disciples must have thought that Jesus had gone mad! But the truth is that we might think the very same today. And the reason for that is that as Christians, we too are called to feed the multitude, both spiritually and literally.

When we’re reading this Isaiah passage about free food and drink, I wonder how many of us find this utopian vision naive. A vision where people are no longer hungry, a vision where humankind is at one and at peace. Because the world teaches us that this is not possible. The world teaches us that division and competition is vital for the economy and for personal growth. But this is simply not true.

On social media, people are sharing posts about stopping foreign aid and spending it on our own country instead. Not only would this be a death sentence to those in the kind of need that we can scarcely imagine in this country, but no-one has asked questions like; where does the money come from to make missiles and arms? Where does the money come from for furlough payments? Where does the Brexit money come from? The world has the resources to banish hunger from the face of the earth, but there is no will to do it.

Taking all of this into account, with the added complication that the world also seems to be doing its best to prevent spiritual nourishment as well, as Christians called to feed the world, we might well despair that Jesus has indeed gone mad…that he’s asking too much of us.

But we know that his yoke is easy, that his burden is light, and that love, gentleness and generosity is his hallmark. We, both as individuals and as a Christian community, can rise to the challenge by imitating our Lord. We can’t feed the whole world, we know that, but we can feed those around us. I’m going to get obvious here…foodbanks. They are everywhere, including in our churches, because they’re desperately needed. Surely we can buy an extra couple of items a week to help feed the 5000. If we are able to, even a couple of pounds a month would help aid agencies reach those that we can’t. For those with an hour a month to give, look into the work of the SVP…just an hour of time a month could literally change somebody’s world. And if we do it because we love Christ, then we will also be reaching out to others in his name every time we give a tin of soup, a pound coin or an hour of our time. These are simple ways that we can help to provide Jesus with our five loaves and two fish, enabling him to take them, bless them, multiply them and who knows what else he can work with our simple and humble offering

Seventeenth Sunday.

Today’s cascade of Parables is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. They point to the kingdom of course but each gives a quite different slant.

In the first, the kingdom is a treasure hidden.

In the second, the kingdom is the merchant searching.

In the third, it is a dragnet cast.

Three distinct and quite different aspects of the kingdom are shown.

In the first, it is something which is stumbled upon but when discovered, it transforms the person who finds it by chance. He was not searching for it – it comes ‘out of the blue’, unexpectedly, unasked for, undeserved.

In the second, it is not the treasure stumbled upon but the searcher who HAS been striving to find it.

In the third, it is something which is almost inescapable. A dragnet, by virtue of its name, drags in all that lies in its path. To be sorted and chosen.

So we have 3 aspects of the kingdom.

It can be stumbled upon. An encounter without any initial effort on the part of the searcher. It is therefore something that awaits discovery and the effort on the part of the discoverer is simply to recognize its worth and respond to it.

It may be searched for and when found and recognized it demands the same response – that of total embrace.

And yet it is also something which is inevitable – like the dragnet – which overrides the individual’s intentions or plans. The fish has no choice, the dragnet decides.

Three images of the kingdom. Three responses, three invitations or, perhaps, three possibilities. The kingdom is thus an unexpected gift, a yearning which drives the seeker to keep searching, an overpowering and inescapable force.

Can these three images be reconciled – well if you want a simple, black and white, irrefutable definition, then no but if you want to go deeper into the Mystery of God then yes.

Because the kingdom is the gift, undeserved and unearned of God’s love for us. Because the kingdom is the inbuilt yearning for wholeness, fulfilment, purpose which drives us on. Augustine’s, ‘Our hearts are restless till they rest in you’.

Because the kingdom is God’s desire to have us with Him; to draw us, everyone into that relationship which is the kingdom. All are given that opportunity.

The challenge is for us to trust in the judgement, the love of God. When the dragnet drags all from the sea, it is not for the ‘things dragged’ to decide whether they are worth keeping or not. It is the one who does the dragging.

And so to get an idea of what God’s judgement might be let’s look into the storeroom and draw from it both new and old.

From the New – ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!’

From the Old – ‘And God saw what He had made and indeed, it was very good!’

I think we can safely leave the judgment to Him and rejoice that we are invited into this kingdom relationship which defies easy and simplistic ‘definition’.

Paul speaks of; ‘the ones He chose specially long ago’ How long ago, we cannot know, but things we can know ? God’s choice is for those who are not searching but stumble into the relationship, God’s choice is for those who actively yearn and seek, God’s choice is hardly a choice at all as He draws all to him with an inevitability like a dragnet in the sea. So many different ways to find ourselves in the same place, loved, welcomed, invited

Fifteenth Sunday

There is the old saying; ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ and although I do not think it would be wholly accurate in regard to our situation here, I do wonder how many of us, when we hear the words ‘And Jesus said “Imagine a sower going out to sow” think, ‘Oh yes, I know this one’ and perhaps tune out just a little and reconnect as the deacon says ‘The Gospel of the Lord’.

This is not meant to be a criticism just an observation. Sometimes, I have to consciously tune in to listen to that oh so familiar parable as it is being proclaimed by another otherwise I may lose the grace of hearing it read in a new or different way. The different emphasis or tone of voice or expression that the proclaimer is using. It is in these very emphases that God may be speaking to me.

The reason we have a cycle of three years readings is not because the Church cannot be bothered to  choose more but it is a recognition that, as I move and grow and develop as a person – so my understanding and encounter with the readings will change, I will draw new insights.

If ‘You cannot step into the same river twice’ is true at the deepest level because the water is ever moving, ever changing. So in the same way, I can never hear the same reading twice, because the person reading it may be different but the person hearing it, me,  will be too. I will be bringing a different experience, outlook and mood.

Each time I hear a scripture spoken, the Lord is speaking to me. However, today, with this reading, what is the Lord wanting to tell me ?  I will encounter the reading differently than the person next to me. I may be challenged, I may be encouraged, I may be changed – the scripture is my personal encounter.

This brings me to a point with which I always struggle. The explanation of the parables. A parable is an image which the Lord uses to draw us deeper into the mystery of the Kingdom, of God Himself and of love. Jesus uses them as tools of challenge. He sets it before us and asks us to let the image speak to us personally, to let it interact with our understanding and mind. This seems to be at odds, in my mind, with the idea that the Lord would give the image, invite us to allow it to speak to us and then explain it. Parables are like butterflies – beautiful, evasive, challenging. Try and photograph a butterfly and the dratted thing would often fly off, just beyond your reach. You will catch a flash of colour which will inspire and lead you on. You will never stop trying to capture the sight of that beauty; its very elusive quality is the thing that keeps you trying. This is the same with the parable, it draws you on, you never fully capture or understand its whole meaning, it always eludes your grasp.

A parable, if explained, becomes rather like a butterfly, pinned to a board. Yes, you can see its colour and beauty, it lies there clear for you to admire but it no longer has power to inspire or challenge. It can no longer elude your grasp, it can no longer move at all, it is lifeless. The butterfly flying free continues to inspire; the parable, open-ended, enables you to continually seek to understand and explore, more deeply, the mystery of God.

So having said all that, it would be rather pointless for me to explain the parable but I do want to say something to illustrate my point about explanations. Jesus’ explanation today – there are four types of people – if I said ‘Oh right, that’s what the parable means’ then I would lose the fact that it is saying something quite different to me.

 ‘Mark, there may or may not be four types of people’s response to the Word of God but it is absolutely certain that you respond to the Word of God in four different ways.’

 I can sometimes be falsely enthusiastic or weighed down by anxiety or uncaring and disinterested but then again I can sometimes be open and receptive. I am all 4, I change from situation to situation, what does not change is the Word of God, the seed. This remains constant, He remains so.

However I may react , and this is perhaps a sometimes overlooked detail of the reading,  God continues to rain down in a glorious act of ‘wasteful generosity.’ The seed thrown everywhere because what God most wants, is for us to have life and have it to the full.

Fourteenth Sunday

You probably recognize the image Zechariah is giving us in the first reading today as it is the scripture quotation that both Matthew and John use to describe Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Over Easter I read a book in which the writer contrasts this humble, simple arrival through the eastern gate with the arrival of Pilate at the selfsame time, from the West, in all his force and aggression. Pilate would have been coming to stay in the city over the Passover so as to insure the oppressed stayed oppressed whilst Jesus was coming to do the exact opposite, to set them free. The writer declared that he saw Jesus’ entry as a direct challenge to the action of the Romans.

When I come to reflect and live Palm Sunday next year, hopefully with a gathered multitude of course, it will surely be in the back of my mind. It is, after all, what Jesus does. He challenges and makes us think and look at our own efforts. We all, in some way, shape or form, have influence, authority, power over others; whether this be in intimate relationships, in work situations or in wider society. How do I express this authority, how do I exercise my ‘power’? In Zechariah, the authority of the king will be expressed not in fist and force, no chariots or bows of war but in the open hand, stretched out to heal and enable.

This is same unexpected situation is shown in the Gospel. Yokes are symbols of hard gruelling work. They are worn so as to ease the carrying of heavy burdens or to spread the pull of machinery as it is dragged behind us. They represent effort, sweat and pain. Fight against them and they continue to bite and wound and scrape and damage but once these burdens are accepted they begin to mould around the shoulders and neck of the bearer. It does not make the weight lighter, it simply makes the effort less painful. Rebel and fight and they grind and bite but accept the burden and at least it becomes less painful, more bearable.

This, I suppose, is what oppressed people have had to endure always. This, I would imagine, is where the whole BLM demonstrations have come from; the feeling of oppression and not being listened to and being overlooked and being disrespected. A yoke which is unfair and cruel, even when it moulds to your shoulder is a continual reminder of your oppression. Pulling a yoke through your own soil, to scatter your own crops, burdensome and difficult though it may be, is worth the sweat and pain; dragging a yoke through someone else’s soil because they ordered you to, and from which you may gain no benefit whatsoever, will never make that yoke anything but a weight of demoralization.

So, when Jesus declares that the yoke He will lay on our shoulders is easy, His listeners, an oppressed and belittled people, would have thought either He was mad or He was saying something mind-blowingly wonderful. When He promises that His burden is light, the contradiction inherent in the oxymoron of burden and light would have made them stop to listen. Most of us will never have seriously worked with a yoke; most of us will very rarely, if ever, have had to heave a mighty blade through unforgiving land. (although my wielding of the mattock, as I sought to initially clear the Secret Garden 5 years ago, gave me blisters and aches aplenty). Nevertheless the image can still speak to us.

Down the centuries those in authority both in Church and state have sometimes resorted to declaring that people should be satisfied and accept their position in society etc etc. This was a way of ‘keeping people in their place’. Interestingly, when I studied ‘Macbeth’ at School my English teacher, Mr Flint of blessed memory, pointed out that Macbeth was criticized in the play for ambition, for not being satisfied with his state. This was the error and demerit from which all the horror came. Ambition, the desire to be better and to do better and to achieve is now seen as a good thing but in previous times not so much. Power would say ‘Where you are is where God intended you to be’. This was the yoke which bore people down.

Christ does not see us like this, He sees no-one in this way.  Society and history and opportunity may lay all sorts of yokes and burdens on me; some of which it is right to fight against and seek to throw off, some may be of my own making and some, if I look at them with an open mind, may be ones I can see that will help and encourage me along the way but Christ’s…His is a quite different one.

Think back though the Lord’s life. His way of leadership is to show and go before and not expect another to do anything He would or could not do. When and where did you see the Lord dragging something behind Him, where was He heading, for whom was He doing that work ?

The Yoke He lays upon me and upon you is love. If it is the answer to every question it is a useful yoke indeed. If I rebel and fight against it, it will never settle on my shoulder and mould to my outline but if I seek to accept it then, over the years, it will get better and I will, with His grace, be working not just for my good but for all good.

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Today is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the two titans of the Church. I say titans, not through their own merits, but by responding to their call to serve God in a way that helped the Good News spread throughout the world in their day and, in fact, they continue this work still today. Both men were capable of the most profound, eloquent, and beautiful witness to Christ, and yet despite this, they were flawed men. We know this because we hear from them, or about them, nearly every week in readings. Scripture, in many ways, lays them bare.

          However, I believe that these two men are icons of hope. Hope to you and me, hope that manifests itself in the mercy, compassion and love of God.

          Peter seemed to spend half his time getting it right and the other half getting it gloriously wrong, summed up perfectly by todays Gospel. What insight and courage it must have taken to utter the words, “You are the Christ”! How his heart must have been pounding, compelled to speak the words, words that he perhaps didn’t understand. Surely, there must have been a part of him that was worried that he’d misunderstood and was wide of the mark, preparing himself for verbal retribution. But, on this occasion his insight was from a higher power, chosen to receive it to enable him to do the work that was set for him. His heart must have leapt when Jesus confirmed his words and gifted him His Church.

          And yet, shortly after this Peter is rebuked as Satan for trying to tempt Jesus, which is what it amounted to. Of course, there are many other examples of Peter’s failings, not least of which is the threefold denial of Christ at the start of His Passion. But I think the picture of Peter that we are left with is of a man, a simple fisherman, who had all the human traits that we understand, because we have them, and yet he was given the gift of faith in its fullness. And it is this combination of human frailty interspersed with God given insight that, I believe, makes Peter an icon of hope.

          Paul is a slightly different proposition. Peter is sometimes viewed as ‘fiery’, but Paul makes him look tame. Here we have a man who committed heinous crimes against the early followers of Christ. Paul had blood on his hands. Throughout Scripture, Paul comes across as an opinionated, argumentative man who could be difficult to get on with, even taking Peter to task when he thought that Peter was setting the wrong example.

But…what utter beauty Paul was capable of. His Hymn of love in 1 Corinthians is poetry that exceeds all poetry and his faith in Christ exceeds all faith. Why do I say that? Because he had an absolute belief that, despite his terrible sins, he would receive God’s forgiveness. This is evident on many occasions, including today’s reading from his second letter to Timothy; “I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me…”.

          Paul was certain of God’s mercy, no doubt fuelled by his encounter with the Glorified Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul also, by virtue in a large part to his Damascene encounter, is an icon of hope.

          I’m talking about icons of hope, but what do I mean by that? It just struck me that often, we can look at people who are just too perfect to find inspiration in because we know that we can’t aspire to be as good as they are (for ‘we’, read ‘I’). It could be an artist, a musician, a frustratingly brilliant work colleague or competitor, a ‘holy’ person. But not so with Peter and Paul. For all their ‘titan’ status, they are eminently inspiring for two reasons. Firstly, because their ‘oh so human’ failings are on display for all to see, failings that we relate to because we too fail. But secondly, because despite this, they have allowed God to work in their lives. They have opened themselves up to God’s will for them, and in so doing, have given witness to God’s compassion, his understanding of human nature, his mercy, and, most of all, his love for his people.

          Yes, Peter and Paul are titans, but we too can be titans, despite our past, present, and future failings, despite our unworthiness, if we follow their inspiration. Because we too can open ourselves to God’s will for us. We too can give witness to his mercy, compassion, and love for all people. And, believe it or not, we too can inspire others by allowing God to work through us, just as Peter and Paul did. This is the enduring legacy of Saints Peter and Paul.

God Bless you all…Deacon Anthony

Church Times in the Deanery

With the relaxing of lockdown it has enabled those Churches which are ready and able to open for private prayer until we are able to worship publicly together. We continue to pray for all those who are struggling with illness and isolation and all those who are working so hard for our safety and healing. Below are the Churches in our area who have opened with the times that we have been given. For any other Churches it is probably best to contact their office directly.

Our Lady and St Patrick. Teignmouth. Mon-Fri 10am-2pm

St Joseph’s , Newton Abbot. Daily. 10-12; Thurs Evening. 6-8pm

St Gregory’s, Kingskerswell. Mon and Fri. 4-6pm

Our Lady, Help of Christians and St Denis, St Marychurch Daily. 11-1pm; 5-6pm

Assumption of Our Lady, Abbey Rd. Daily. 11-1pm; 5-6pm

Sacred Heart and St Therese of the Child Jesus, Paignton. Daily 2-4pm

Twelth Sunday Homily

Lockdown hair would seem to be quite an advantage in this week’s Gospel, well so long as the length of the hairs counted matters and perhaps, for those whom have not dared dye their own, the colour does not.(I am thinking of ‘what has been covered, will now be uncovered and everything now hidden will be made clear’!!). However, on a more serious note, with the image of ‘hairs being counted’ the Lord is declaring something rather lovely if challenging to accept. That God, our Father, knows us through and through and loves us still.

The American evangelist, Philip Yancey once wrote a lovely aphorism

‘There is nothing you can do that will make God love you anymore and there is nothing you can that will make God love you any less’.

This is, when you stop to think about it, quite simply mind-blowing. Whatever I do or don’t do, this doesn’t alter God’s feelings for me because He knows all of me.  He knows the ‘stuff’ which I keep hidden and closeted away, perhaps from myself but certainly from others. I want to be liked or admired or respected and I am afraid that others would not if they ‘knew what I was really like’. In this Gospel, He is declaring there is nothing in you I don’t know or see or read and I still think you were worth dying for.

That makes no sense to our way of thinking. I grow to love people as i grow to know them. Random acts of kindness or care or generosity deepens the love and appreciation and, conversely, acts of cruelty, insensitivity and selfishness can damage or harm the relationship. Not so with God. He loves me, in spite of my crassness, my stupidity, my lack of goodness.

When i really understand this, at that moment perhaps, I want to be worthy of it. As we say time and time again, I can’t be, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to be better, and it’s that yearning which leads me on. That yearning comes from God. The Holy Spirit at work, pulling me into the mystery, embrace, wonder of the Godhead and really, that is what Paul is speaking of in the Romans passage today.

This entry into the relationship of Divine Life had never been available before the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. That is why He is the new Adam. He is not another Adam, but the New Adam. The obedience or lack of, fidelity or lack of, these are our battles but they are not THE battle. That has already been won by Jesus on the Cross. My main battle is with myself – can I accept the generosity of God ? Am I able to put aside all my strivings and successes and achievements (or lack thereof) in the spiritual life, which are as nothing, and accept that Jesus has done it all for me ? I can still strive to be more open to God and others of course; I still can seek wisdom and a deeper readiness to listen and respond to Him but that is not the central act of a Christian.

The central act is to accept the ‘abundant free gift’.

It is abundant – bottomless, endless, overflowing.

It is free – I do not need to buy or earn it, indeed it is impossible for me to do so because it comes from the very essence of God – it is his unearnable, unfathomable forgiveness.

It is gift – All we need do is accept it and then having accepted it seek ways to share it.

‘What we hear in whispers’, (Eugene Boylan’s ‘Tremendous Lover’ telling how He loves us) we are asked to ‘proclaim from the house tops’.

I suppose if I could only fully grasp the wonder of this ridiculously undeserved and, on the part of God, shameless love – wouldn’t I want to shout about it ?

ps. Any spelling mistakes I blame on the cat who again draped herself over my typing arm which meant I had to type one handed and with my left hand at that. Goodness only knows what would have happened had I been writing it longhand, although maybe some of you might feel it would be more legible left handed.

Church Re-opening

As you will have all been made aware in the past few days, the Government has given permission for Churches to re-open for private prayer from June 15th if all necessary preparations have been carried out, due care and attention has been paid to ensure people using the Church would be safe, and that suitable social distancing has been put in place.

Each Diocese is asking parishes to send back a checklist form in which clear guidelines are given for the cleaning, maintaining and stewarding of each Church that opens. On receiving this form, the Diocese, if it is satisfied, will give permission for the Church to open. Here in All Saints, we are waiting permission to open Our Lady and St Patrick’s and hope to be able to do so later this week for restricted hours. Further information will be provided as soon as possible.

Thank you for both your patience and understanding at this strange time.