My dear parishioners of St John’s & St Mary Magdalene’s
Deep down we all cry out: “Come Holy Spirit”. This simple prayer goes to the core of our being. It is our soul reaching out to the Divine, our heart speaking to the Sacred Heart, our spirit inspired by His. For, like God, we are spiritual beings, even if like Christ we are bodily beings also. There is more to us than biology and money, important as these are. It is our souls that inform our bodies, making them live bodies, human bodies, our bodies; it is our souls that ground our consciousness, rationality and freedom, enabling creativity and, yes, economy. Our souls are also why we live after death.
Following instructions from the Diocese we will proceed with a measured and controlled opening of the Church for a couple of hours each day, remembering that our own Bishop governs what happens in his Diocese, and even that circumstances may be different from parish to parish within the Diocese given the age of the clergy, the style of building, and the make-up of the congregation.
We have been instructed, quite clearly, that this is not a “one size fits all” approach, and therefore I would ask you to bear this in mind, as one parish or church may do things slightly differently to another, as may one Diocese in comparison to another.
The initial stage, when we enter it will simply be one of opening our churches for private prayer, numbers will be limited, and sanitary precautions will be used, whilst not wanting, at the same time, to detract from the prayerfulness and peacefulness of the opportunity to pray before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It will probably be the case that people will be required to “book” a slot for prayer, to wear a face covering, to sit in a designated place, and to use hand sanitiser on entry and exit.
We will find that opening times will may be varied, changeable, and probably not in accord with what were the previous times of Mass, this is to allow flexibility, to facilitate cleaning, and to be able to respond to need. I am certain that this will be a non-issue given the wonderful opportunity to at least be able to return to the church and prayer before Jesus in the Tabernacle or Monstrance.
We have had to get used to many changes in the way we operate from day-to-day. The parish is no different.
I appreciate your prayerful support, good wishes and concern over this time, I appreciate the continued giving, financially, that has sustained the parish over this while, and I encourage you to continue to be supportive.
I am working with our Parish Safety Coordinator and the Diocesan Heath and Safety and Buildings Officer to put every legal requirement into place before we open. It is not a matter of simply unlocking the door. Conversations are taking place with our cleaners and other helpers, too.
Permission to re-open churches comes with strict conditions: we must take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of everyone involved and to observe the directives we have received.
I ask all parishioners to keep praying for an end to the pandemic and our return to a better way of worshipping together. Come Holy Spirit!
Wednesday marks the Solemnity of St John the Baptist, our Patronal Festival. I hope to be able to be open for then. Remember, our goal is HEAVEN. In the meantime, living well through the COVID-19 pandemic, with all its effects on our daily lives including our worship and community life, is in God’s strange providence part of our route to that goal.
God bless you, and please keep watching the parish website and reading the parish newsletter for further details.