Starting the Day While Staying At Home


In these unusual times when churches are closed and we are asked to stay at home, Catherine and I have found a way to start each day which has become a great help. We thought it would be nice to share this with others.


On https://www.churchservices.tv/lymington, the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph in Lymington, Hampshire, live stream their Office of Readings and Morning Prayer at 7am each day.

Although we do not have a copy of the Divine Office at home, we are able to follow the prayers, psalms and readings with the help of https://universalis.com/. There are free trial apps for mobile phones available via links on this site and we use one of these whilst watching the Sisters on a laptop linked up to the TV.

If 7am is a bit early for you, it is all recorded and available for watching back on the same website. Each day they also stream the Angelus, Midday Prayer and Holy Mass at 12pm, Rosary and Evening Prayer at 5pm and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (followed by Compline) at 8:15pm.

Elsewhere on https://www.churchservices.tv/, there are many other Catholic churches in the UK and Ireland which live stream services every day.
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Mary's "Yes"

Luke 1:26–38
 
Mary prays her yes to God
 
Mary’s fiat, her yes, her consent to God’s will, meant that in the fulness of time God’s son was born of a woman (Galatians 4:4), so that we could become sons and daughters of God.
 
Today we contemplate Mary, our Mother in faith, the Mother of us all.  She is the perfect model of Christian faith, the example of what it means to give oneself wholeheartedly to God’s will.
 
St Teresa of Calcutta said, “Mary showed complete trust in God by agreeing to be used as an instrument in his plan of salvation.  She trusted him in spite of her nothingness because he knew he who is mighty could do great things in her and through her.
 
"Once she said “yes” to him she never doubted.  She was just a young woman, but she belonged to God and nothing nor anyone could separate her from him."
 
We too are called to give birth to Christ and, like Mary, we do so through the path of learning to be responsive, receptive and obedient to the Holy Spirit.  Just as Mary’s “yes” opened the door of our salvation, so too our “yes” to God opens the gate which leads to an ever-deeper experience of living a life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Lord, we give thanks and praise for Mary, the new Eve, for through her the way was opened for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us.
 
Chris
 
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Jesus heals the official's child

John 4:43–54
 
In today’s Gospel passage the child of a Gentile officer in Herod’s court is ill and dying.  But his encounter with Jesus is very brief.
 
“Sir, come down before my child dies.” (v.49)
 
 “Go, your son will live."
 
The fever left the child and he was restored to health.
 
The key to this healing was the official’s faith.  “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” (v.50).  By this John provides us with a great definition of faith: taking God at his word.
 
It’s like saying simply to God, “If you say it is so, then it is so, and I can put my hope and trust in you.”  Faith, we know, is being sure of what we can hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).
 
Faith is really no more than taking God at his word.  As St Augustine said, “For what is faith unless it is to believe what you do not see?"
 
Take heart and encouragement from our official in today’s Gospel, for he took Jesus at his word and was mightily blessed.  If we take Jesus at his word we too will be mightily blessed.
 
"The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17
 
Chris
 
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Online Mass attendance

ONLINE MASSES
 
There are several sites on the Internet where you can “attend” Mass while it happens – real-time streaming;  the Masses at Northampton Cathedral are here (including times):
 
 
But also the Aid to the Church in Need (ACNUK) has a list of other streamed services which you can “attend” while they happen.
 
 
Chris
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Repentance to Bring Blessing

Hosea 14: 2-10

 

"The Lord says this: Israel, come back to the Lord your God; your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.  Provide yourself with words and come back to the Lord.  Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away so that we may have happiness again and offer you our words of praise. 

"Assyria cannot save us, we will not ride horses any more, or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made, for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion’ – I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them with all my heart, for my anger has turned from them. 

"I will fall like dew on Israel.  He shall bloom like the lily, and thrust out roots like the poplar, his shoots will spread far; he will have the beauty of the olive and the fragrance of Lebanon. 

"They will come back to live in my shade; they will grow corn that flourishes, they will cultivate vines as renowned as the wine of Helbon.  What has Ephraim to do with idols any more when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him? 

"I am like a cypress ever green; all your fruitfulness comes from me.  Let the wise man understand these words.  Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning. 

"For the ways of the Lord are straight, and virtuous men walk in them, but sinners stumble."

 

When our will is weak, when our thinking is confused, and when our conscience is burdened with a load of guilt, we must remember that God cares for us continually; His compassion never fails.

When our shortcomings and our awareness of our sins overcome us, God’s compassion never fails.

Chris

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A Letter from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales

UP-TO-DATE ADVICE IS ON THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS' website

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES

A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.

Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.

However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.

Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.

We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the 'serious reason' why this obligation does not apply at this time.

You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.

The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.

During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.

'The Lord is my shepherd, There is nothing I shall want.'

May God bless us all.

signed . . .

Vincent Cardinal Nichols                                     Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP

President                                                          Vice-President

Text of guidance 18 Mar 20.

 

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Cessation of Public Liturgies


Liturgical Advice for the Bishops of England and Wales
in the light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
18th March 2020
This advice will be reviewed and developed as necessary weekly

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having consulted the Ordinaries of the Dioceses, has agreed that the cessation of public liturgies should begin from Friday evening 20th March 2020. Because of the situation the Church finds herself in, the obligation for the faithful to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday or Holy day of Obligation is removed, until further notice.
 
The following instruction is now given for the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church at this time.
 
 
 
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Lockdown


Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other 
across the empty squares, 
keeping their windows open 
so that those who are alone 
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know 
is busy spreading fliers with her number 
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples 
are preparing to welcome 
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able 
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

-from Richard Hendrick (Brother Richard) in Ireland 
March 13th 2020
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Jesus Talks to a Woman at the Well

John 4:5–42
 
Samaritan Woman and Jesus
 
In this encounter with the woman at the well (a Samaritan), Jesus is described in very human terms, sitting at the well, exhausted from his journey.  The woman too is very human.  Her appearance at the well at about noon, long after the other village women would have replenished their water supply, may indicate her isolated position in society.  
 
She was shunned for her many sins.  Yet it is she who becomes a missionary to her people.
 
Jewish/Samaritan relations were historically condition.  About 722 BC the Assyrian army descended on Northern Israel, took its population into exile and colonised its land with foreigners.  These people partially adopted Israel’s religion over the centuries but were always viewed by the Jews as hated, semi-pagan invaders.
 
The woman was therefore very surprised when Jesus spoke to her, and even more astonished when he asked her for a drink, since Jews did not share food or drink with Samaritans for fear of ritual defilement.
 
Water becomes the sign by which both baptism and faith are epxlained to us.  Water is the means, but the Holy Spirit flowing into us is the reality.  There is a vital connection between the flowing of water and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
 
The “living water” of which Jesus speaks brings not only awareness of her sin to the woman but forgiveness – hope in the presence of Jesus as the Messiah and faith in his words.
 
The water that Jesus offers is not something that human effort can obtain.  It is a pure gift from God, water which, when drunk, becomes within a spring of life.  Jesus is referring in the first place to his own words of salvation, words that are spirit and life, because whoever listens to them and lives by them will continue to share in God’s life.
 
The water has a deeper meaning as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38–39).  The Spirit enables us to understand the words of Jesus and to respond to them with a willing heart.
 
The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realise it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.  (CCC 2560)
 
 
Chris
 
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Peace and Joy, by St Paul

Romans 5:1–8
 
The first five verses of Chapter 5 of St Paul’s Letter to the Romans introduce a section that contains difficult concepts.  To understand the following four chapters, it helps to keep in mind the two-sided reality of the Christian life.
 
On the one hand we are complete in Christ (our acceptance with him is secure).  On the other hand we are growing in Christ (we are becoming more and more like him).  At the one and the same time we have status of kings and the duties of slaves.
 
We feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin.  We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God, but we still face daily problems that help us to grow.
 
If we remember these two sides of the Christian life, we will not be discouraged as we face temptations and problems.  Instead we will learn to depend on the power available to us from Christ, who lives in us by the Holy Spirit.
 
Chris
 
(from the footnotes in my Life Application Bible)
 
 
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