Update – 1st April 2020

Dear parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s 

These days of restrictions are passing by slowly. We are told that these next two weeks will be the most difficult and dramatic for new cases of infection and deaths. We saw this with the dramatic rise in deaths yesterday. This growing tragedy should take the edge off our impatience to return to our freedoms. Hundreds a day are losing their lives in our country.

Lent is drawing to a close and the greatest and most sacred week for Christians is approaching. It is a dramatic week, full of pain, suffering and death. In an astonishing way, this week of Christian observance and the life of our society coincide in an identical way.

This is the time, then, to ask how we will play our part in what is happening around us. We are certainly not onlookers. We are intimately part of what is happening. I believe that if we live the days of the coming Holy Week prayerfully, thoughtfully and lovingly, we will be very well prepared to engage in the suffering that is happening around us.

How are we going to do this when our churches remain locked and our public worship is not taking place? As I have mentioned in my recent preaching and also in my regular letters to you all, the answer is the Domestic Church, the Church of the home. In many ways, this is the Church in her most crucial and true form. God is present in the homes of each one of us. His Holy Spirit hovers there, above each one of us and enters our hearts when invited. We are asked to offer God our worship there.

It is in the Church of the home that we will live out the drama of Holy Week this year. There will be two elements to this drama. The first is the place we choose to pray. We can pray anywhere, anytime of course. But if we find a particular, quiet place so much the better. There we can reflect, meditate and talk to our Father God as needy children. The second element is the media outlet in our homes. There we will see this sad drama taking place. These two places must meet; my place of prayer and my TV. One must flow into the other.

I will write to you again at the weekend to make some practical suggestions as to how we, as parish communities, can unite ourselves to one another in Holy Week. But one final thought; as the days pass slowly, we can get into a sad mindset that sees no end to the current crisis. Think instead of each passing day as one day closer to the end of this crisis, for end it most certainly will. Already we can glimpse the first faint light of Easter and all the joy and peace it promises. Let us keep our eyes firmly fixed on that approaching light and the inevitable end of this crisis. Then we can be bearers of hope and not sadness.

God bless you all!

Father John

(Dear All, Clare Henderson shared a link with me from Facebook relating an initiative from the USA publicised by a Deacon from there. His website is www.thedeaconsbench.com The initiative relates to Palm Sunday.God Bless, John)