MASSES AND SERVICES AND LIVE-STREAMING OVER THE NEXT THREE OR MORE WEEKS
Last Sunday, we had fixed opening hours for Our Lady, Help of Christians, and were still unsure about when St Joseph’s would be able to remain open. Since then, things have moved fast: both churches - and all churches in the diocese - are now closed for the duration of the epidemic, and we have been blessed to have installed the live streaming so that people in our parish (and, for that matter, elsewhere) can have access (of a kind) to the mass via the internet.
This is not the same as going to mass - but the Archbishop has dispensed all Catholics in Southwark Diocese from the obligation to attend mass on Sundays until further notice. Priests must celebrate alone in the building: a curious and deeply counter-intuitive thing for them to do - but the point of it for us is twofold - firstly, it IS the offering of Christ’s Sacrifice made real and present in the Mass for the living and departed; this great act of Christ in his Church is maintained and offered in homage and obedience. As it says in the Catechism, “As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.” The universal and eternal liturgy of heaven is made present among us. We priests have to celebrate the liturgy on our own, in these circumstances of deprivation and isolation, simply because it must be done, and even cut off from God’s Holy People, we can do it for them. And secondly, thank heaven, to our surprise in this contemporary world, we can show the People of God that we are doing it, and we can help them, as they see and hear the “source and summit of the Christian life,” to pray and worship and intercede for themselves and the suffering world, along with Christ though they are presently ciut off from him in the Eucharist.
One last note - people have asked that the clergy offer mass for particular intentions, and this is being systematically done (although not always at the exact time that people asked for, because the parish is only celebrating six masses per week instead the usual twelve). Along with these specific intentions, every mass is being offered also for the health and recovery of those suffering from Covid-19, here in Folkestone and throughout the world.
In the Parish Office we have compiled a mailing list from all the e-mail addresses of parishioners that we have, and because of the Covid-19 epidemic I am using this to email all of you. If you do NOT want us to keep in touch with you by email, please let us know, and we will delete your address from our list.
Secondly, let me say that Fr Jamie Houghton, Fr Capener, Deacon Homsey, the Sisters at Virgo Fidelis and I are all keeping you daily in our prayers, asking for your health and well-being in this time of fear, isolation, and illness; and we all send you our best wishes and encouragement to “STAY SAFE!” Apart from the sisters, we can’t meet together to say our prayers because, like everyone else, we are not allowed to leave our houses except for narrowly specified reasons (moreover, three of the clergy are in the “at-risk” category). Nor can any meetings take place because our parish halls and the presbytery) are closed as well.
Thirdly, things have moved astonishingly fast since March 8th. We were asked on that Sunday simply to use sanitizing gel and receive Holy Communion in our hands. The following Sunday was our last Lord’s Day at Mass, and by the end of that week it was forbidden to gather for mass, but churches remained open for private prayer - and then late on Sunday night every church was closed we were all in complete shutdown and isolation. The notices outside each church were altered almost daily to announce the changes, and people learned of them directly from the clergy, from other parishioners, or via social media and other channels that throughout England all Catholic churches were closed (as were almost all other churches, along with other religious buildings). Although the situation will be kept under constant review by the Archbishop, for the next few weeks there will no baptisms, weddings, and funerals, no more prayer groups, study sessions, or meetings, and no Sunday or weekday masses - EXCEPT THAT THERE WILL BE!
Yes, there WILL be masses. We are all living now in great isolation from one another, and all the normal currency of social life is suspended. Because so many vital ties are cut, and because we are cut off from the vital tie that is at the heart of our lives as Catholic Christian people, the Archbishop has encouraged priests to celebrate Mass on their own, in their churches, for their people and for the world as it fights this pestilence. Moreover, he’s encouraged us to broadcast these celebrations via “live-streaming” on the internet. That way, anyone with a smart phone, or a laptop, or a home computer, can watch these celebrations and join in the Eucharist in their hearts and minds and spirits. It’s not the same as being there, but it does re-connect you with what Jesus instituted for the health of soul, body, and community, and it will enable you better to pray with the whole Church for the world, for your families, for the Church and for yourselves in these dreadful and distressing days.
For me personally, being cut off from seeing and talking to you all is the strangest and hardest thing in all this: but being able to share Morning and Evening Prayer with you, and to share Mass with you, via live-streaming, is a wonderful gift - and one I never, ever, expected to appreciate! But I have turned right round through 180 degrees on this, strange as I still find it. So I write because it’s all I can do to be in contact with you; and I urge you to watch, and thus in some small way to participate in, the daily mass and prayers. Morning Prayer will be 9.30am, followed by Mass at 10.00am every day; and Evening Prayer will be at 6.30pm. That’s every day except Friday. You can find your way to it via the parish website https://catholic-folkestone.blogspot.com/ and https://www.churchservices.tv/,
Remember, if you DON’T WANT to receive messages or bulletins or notices from the parish, under GDPR (General Data Protection Rules), just let us know, and we will delete you from the mailing list. But we hope you WILL want to keep in touch, and as we want to keep in touch with you.
May God bless you and keep you safe, and protect those whom you hold in your hearts. I conclude with two words of thanks: one to Matt Curtis, of Primary Solutions, who, with his colleague Barry, has worked long and hard and fast to get our streaming set up - I can’t thank Matt enough for his care and kindness and skills: and a second thanks to Fr Jamie, for sending me a prayer to pass on to you to be said as you take part, or prepare to take part, in the live-streaming of mass.:
My Jesus, I believe
that you are truly present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive you into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive you sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart -
I embrace you as being already there,
and I unite myself wholly to you:
never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
(St. Alphonsus Liguori)
With my prayers and affection,
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!
St Joseph, pray for us!
St George, Patron of our diocese, pray for us!
St Gregory, Apostle of the English, pray for us!
St Eanswythe, Patron of Folkestone, pray for us!
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MASS INTENTIONS: Please note: mass intentions that have been promised will be offered. Times and places, however, cannot be guaranteed as they originally might have been (e.g. next Sunday’s masses will be offered during the coming week), and the single Sunday mass that will be celebrated from next weekend onwards must, and will be, offered pro populo: for the people of the parish.
PRIEST: Fr Stephen Bould BD AKC
DEACON: Dr Gehad Homsey MB, BCh
SECRETARY: Mr Dylan Jeffrey BA MSc
Telephone: 01303 252823