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)

Update re – Help and Support -30th March 2020

Alice Joyce has sent the following update;

The Foodbank are now in desperate need and they expect this to worsen over the next few weeks.
They urgently need Longlife Milk, tinned meats also any tinned vegetables or fruit,
Washing powder/tablets and treats for the kids. With Easter just less than 2 weeks, away creme eggs, lollipops, Haribo sweets would all be much appreciated.
Even if you can only spare one tin of baked beans, please pop it in our front gate at 35 Freshfield Road on the corner of Wicks Lane when your out on your daily walk.
Just lift the latch of gate and we’ll put a plastic container with a lid just inside the gate.
Please wear gloves and we’ll disinfect the latch regularly being mindful of any cross contamination.
We’ll deliver the food up to the Lakeside Food Bank on Friday.  It’s now open Mon, Wed and Fri from 1-3pm.
Don’t forget, Waitrose, Tesco and One Stop -opp Cross House pub – are still big collection points for the Food Bank.
If you can’t get out, you can always donate money to this very worthy cause, using the below link

Make a donation – The Trussell Trust    This link takes you straight to the donation page.

Update -28th March 2020

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

I wonder how many of us managed to see the special blessing that Pope Francis gave to the City of Rome and the World on Friday evening. In one sense, it was a very sad sight. The solitary figure of the Pope looking out on a completely empty Square, and a city and a country in complete lockdown suffering so many deaths. Yet there was something very powerful there as well. The Pope has only one thing to offer the world. That is the person of Jesus, crucified and risen. When he stepped forward, alone, to raise the monstrance containing the body of Jesus to bless us, it was one of the most powerful moments I have experienced.

This Sunday is the fifth Sunday of Lent. It is astonishing to think that Holy Week is already just one week away! In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear the account of the raising of Lazarus. Remember that Lazarus, with his sisters Martha and Mary, were dear friends of Jesus. He wept when he was told that Lazarus had died, the only reference to Jesus weeping in the Gospels. It is love that moves the heart of Jesus to raise his friend from the dead. It was the tears of Martha and Mary that moved Jesus so deeply.

It is significant that the Covid 19 pandemic has struck us during the season of Lent. The Church has always lived the days of Lent as a time of penance. We are all certainly living days of penance now!  But penance is never meant to be an empty act of self inflicted pain or discomfort. It is meant to be an effort to overcome our selfishness and to allow our love to be more sincere, more like the love of Jesus.

I know that there will be many who are finding these days of lockdown very difficult. We are all having to create new routines and we are needing new depths of patience with each other! We are all afraid of the situation we find ourselves in. We are being shown that when everything seems to be disappearing, only Jesus is left. He is the only one who can give us what we need the most; peace, light, strength.

In this situation, let us turn to Jesus and call on his love as Martha and Mary did. Let us ask him to spare us from this virus, to strengthen those who have contracted it and those who are critically ill, to bless and protect our wonderful NHS workers and front line workers, and to return our world to better days soon.

I shall be at the Altar on Sunday praying for each one of you, especially for those who are finding the lockdown difficult at home.

With every blessing,

Fr John

Invitation to Pray with the Pope

How to pray with the Pope on Friday – Vatican News

How to pray with the Pope on Friday

Join Pope Francis in prayer and receive his extraordinary “Urbi et orbi” blessing and plenary indulgence on Friday at 6pm Rome time.

Faithful across the world are invited to join Pope Francis spiritually in prayer on Friday, 27 March at 6 pm Rome time.

The initiative was announced by Pope Francis on Sunday during the Angelus when he said “I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication”.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the moment of prayer on Friday will be broadcast live from the Vatican, beginning at 6 pm Rome time. He noted that the plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

“We will listen to the Word of God, we will raise our supplication, we will adore the Blessed Sacrament, at the end I will impart the Urbi et orbi Blessing, and you will have the possibility of receiving a plenary indulgence.”

From 6pm Rome time, 5pm British time, the ceremony will be broadcast live to the world by Vatican Media and can be followed in several languages on our website, on our Facebook page via Facebook Live and on our YouTube channel.

It will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. This plenary indulgence will also be extended to those who may not be able to participate in the prayer through the media due to illness but who unite themselves in spiritual communion with the prayer.

The blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

The extraordinary moment of prayer in time of pandemic will last about an hour. The “Salus Populi Romani” icon and the crucifix of St. Marcellus, will be placed in front of the central door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed on the altar in the atrium of the Vatican Basilica.


Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

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

Each day, I am celebrating Mass alone in St Jerome’s Church for each and every one of you in this difficult and anxious time.

Today is the beautiful Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. At this moment in time, Mary gave her yes to God, that she would become the Mother of His Son. I remembered especially all those in our parishes who are self isolating, unwell, frail and afraid. The Lord is asking a lot of each one of us at the moment. He asks us to trust Him.

Mass will continue each day. Each of you is remembered at the Altar. Let us take heart. The Lord will never leave us or abandon us.

God bless each and every one of you

Fr John

Archbishop Malcolm’s First Vlog – Feast of the Annunciation – YouTube