At 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, 17th March, 2020, the Archbishops issued an instruction to stop all services throughout the Church of England. They urged us to keep churches open for private prayer; a notice will be published here when the ceiling repairs have been completed allowing us to reopen the church.
During this time I shall continue to celebrate Sunday Mass, but at the Vicarage. I invite you all to set aside that time from 10:30 a.m.; to read the texts set for that day; to spend some time praying for yourself and others; to join in an act of spiritual communion at about the time I’ll be receiving the Blessed Sacrament (roughly 11:10). To assist with this, you can download a service sheet either in traditional or contemporary language: you can replace the collect, epistle and gospel provided there by those of the day, if you wish. There is also a booklet with all the readings and services called Praying at Home; it is provided by the Church in Wales; it takes you right up to Whitsunday. Please print these off and give them to those who don’t have the Internet so they, too, can participate. These can be found on the Resources page.
The Book of Common Prayer teaches the following about spiritual communion (you’ll find it in The Visitation of the Sick):
But if a man, either by reason of extremity of sickness, or for want of warning in due time to the Curate, or for lack of company to receive with him, or by any other just impediment, do not receive the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood: the Curate shall instruct him that if he do truly repent him of his sins, and stedfastly believe that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the Cross for him, and shed his Blood for his redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits he hath thereby, and giving him hearty thanks therefore; he doth eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ profitably to his soul’s health, although he do not receive the Sacrament with his mouth.
The parish church’s overheads are undiminished, so please continue to give according to your usual plan; you can do so by standing order, direct debit or bank transfer. Note that we are no longer receiving rental for the halls, so that source of income is lost: some of you may feel you can give a bit more to cover that gap.
I have been asked by Taj Barming to let you know that, if you live in the parish, you can phone them for takeaway food and free home delivery that includes a discount for those most in need (i.e. those in quarantine). This is an admirable community service they are providing, especially as they may find their trade as a restaurant is likely to take a substantial hit. All those working there are Muslims: it is such an encouragement to know that people of different faiths are pulling together. The Borough Council is working with the Churches to leaflet houses giving contact details and advice on practical help. Isolated neighbours may welcome a phone call or other assistance you can give. The foodbank needs increased donations at this time.
As we move into uncharted air space over the coming months, we have a chance to think of others, to be more community-oriented than ever as good citizens. Be mindful of the elderly and others in quarantine for their own protection; don’t carry infection to them, however much you miss being with them; find ways of helping them safely and maintain contact in ways that work for them. Use social media and the telephone among yourselves. Encourage one another always. My prayers will accompany you until we can meet together once more.
Fr Neil D. Bryson
SSC, Associate Vicar