Monthly Archives: March 2020

Urbi et Orbi – Pope Francis’s address ‘To Rome and the World’

To an empty St Peter’s Square, the Pope yesterday delivered an address Urbi et Orbi. Normally given on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, these are messages given to the City of Rome and to all the peoples of the world (Urbi = The urban city, Orbi = the globe).

In his address he reflected upon the calming of the storm from the Gospel of Mark, before paying before the Blessed Sacrament. Here are the Pope’s words translated into English.

“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our pre-packagedideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we flounder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).

Mass on Saturday – Webcast at 12noon

Saturday is often a day of devotion to Our Lady. As such, tomorrow our Mass will commence at 12noon with the Angelus. It will be celebrated at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Narberth, the second church of this parish. Find it on our Parish YouTube Page

During the Papal Address “Urbi et Orbi” (to Rome and the World) given at Rome a few moments ago, the music played as the Pope gazed on the icon of Mary was this:

Sub tuum praesidium
confugimus,
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis
libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to Thy protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. Amen.

The ‘Sub tuum praesidium’ is from the 3rd Century and is the world’s oldest hymn to Our Lady. It has often been mentioned by Pope Francis, and he said that it should be sung “in moments of spiritual turbulence [when we should] shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God pronouncing the invocation ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium’.

Vespers of the Annunciation

Please find below the Order of Service for tonight’s sung Vespers. We begin the webcast at 6:30pm.

The service of Vespers commences with a hymn which is followed by three Psalms. The Psalms are sung using Gregorian Chant, and the notes are printed with the text for those who can read music. Even if you cannot read music, it should be easy to join in because the cantor leads one verse, while everybody else sings the next. This pattern of alternate singing then continues: Cantor, then everybody. Cantor then everybody… etc. Fr Liam will be the Cantor tonight, with Fr Matt leading the congregation’s part. Please join in with Fr Matt’s singing.

A Short Reading and Responsory follow, as printed in the Order of Service. After this the altar is venerated with the burning of incense, while together we all sing the prayer of the Magnificat. This is the prayer Mary recited when she met Elizabeth; and John the Baptist leapt for joy in her womb. A series of bidding prayers follows before we conclude with the Lord’s Prayer and Final Blessing.

The service concludes with the Marian Anthem which we have been singing at the end of Sunday Mass.

Parish News Update

In these days of social isolation it may be easy to think that, because the church building is shut, so the  whole Church has packed up and gone away. But nothing could be further from the truth. Here we all are, God’s holy people, striving always to do better for ourselves and for others: 

  • even if we’re fit and healthy we carry on maintaining social isolation for the good of our neighbour
  • if we’re feeling ill we self-quarantine for the common good of all, and 
  • if we have a neighbour in need, we telephone to chat with them and ask what we can do to support them. 

As a parish community we show our faith by our works, as St James said in his letter:“…some may say: so you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds then. It is by my deeds, that I will show you my faith” (James 2:18). 

CHURCH OPENING TIMES

While we can easily show our good works at this time, our charity is driven by our faith: thus we also need to take care of our faith and allow it to be nourished. This is why the church is going to be open at certain times of the day.  

St David and St Patrick’s Church will be open for individual, private prayer from 12:00pm – 3:00pm.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception will be open from 12:00pm – 1:00pm.

When using the church for private prayer, please make sure you maintain meticulous hygiene. Wash your hands before you leave home, and use the alcohol hand santisier provided in both church buildings. Make sure that you sit away from other people, leaving at least a full empty pew between you and the next person. If you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19, or someone in your household has symptoms, then do not come to the church at all: stay at home. You can still pray with the parish community through our parish YouTube channel. Even when sitting in the church we can and should maintain our isolation. 

ON-LINE BROADCASTING

We hope to be able to live stream the Sunday Mass from our parish at 10:00am and, if successful, to broadcast a weekday Mass at 9:00am. We’re also going to put videos online of other devotions, such as The Stations of the Cross and the Rosary. To view the live broadcast and video content you need to go to our YouTube channel at:            

http://m.youtube.com/user/LIFBB

or search within YouTube for “St David and St Patrick’s Haverfordwest”. You should see the following large brown circular “S” icon (for Saint). Click on this to access the channel.

StDandStPYouTube.png

While anyone can view the broadcast and videos, if you have a YouTube account why not click ‘subscribe’ and the ‘notification bell’ button; this will make using the channel easier for the parish, and will enable you to receive personal updates as to when we’re going live. This is something new our parish is experimenting with and we’re not experts at this – but with some help from others, we’re learning, please be patient with us. We don’t have the most sophisticated technology to make it like watching the BBC, but we hope you get a lot from being able to pray with your own priests, in the church building that we all know and love.

Clearly one is not able to receive Holy Communion at home. Nevertheless, there has always been a pious practice of making a ‘Spiritual Communion’ at times when receiving the Sacred Host was not possible. The faithful would offer a prayer of desire towards the Sacrament, asking the Father to give them the graces they would have obtained if they’d received the Sacrament itself. A prayer of spiritual communion is given below.

Spiritual communion.jpg

SACRAMENTS

The Church’s public liturgy has been curtailed at this time and we cannot attend Mass. However, Fr Matt and myself will be celebrating Mass every day and praying your Mass Intentions as requested. 

Baptisms, Receptions into the Church and Confirmations have been postponed to a more appropriate time. 

Those children who are preparing for First Holy Communion are continuing to prepare for the Mass on 17thMay. That date hasn’t yet been postponed, but it is doubtful – a decision will be made in the near future.  

Weddings should ideally be postponed, but can still take place if needed. However, only 5 people (the legally minimum number) will be allowed to attend. This includes the bride, the groom, two witnesses and the duly authorized person from the Register Office. 

Funerals may also still take place, but in a very limited way: A short committal service in the presence of a few mourners may take place at the graveside, or alternately at the crematorium. Parc Gwyn Crematorium is currently limiting the number of mourners to a maximum of 12. Once the current situation has improved then Memorial Masses may be celebrated. This includes Masses celebrated immediately prior to ashes being buried or placed in a columbarium. 

The anointing of the sick will still take place, but the priest will only extend his hands over the patient. He won’t place his hands on the person in the usual way. Additionally the oil used will be administered using a cotton bud. Sick visits will only be made in the case of grave necessity. Telephone the parish clergy if you need the priest to visit for this sacrament. 

The Sacrament of Reconciliation may take place in the church. Please telephone ahead if you would like to receive this sacrament. You will be invited to arrive at St David and St Patrick’s at 3:00pm just as the church is closing. Once others have left, you and the priest will be present in the church, but at a distance from each other, so as to maintain social isolation. 

With regards to being unable to attend confession, Pope Francis has this to say:

Pope Francis cites the Catechism to encourage the faithful to express contrition, and make resolve to return to Sacrament as soon as it becomes possible. He took up the question that many of the faithful are wrestling with as they are under lockdown with churches closed: What about confession? The Pope said: 

I know that many of you go to confession before Easter. Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can’t leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord. I want Him to embrace me… How can I do that unless I find a priest?’ Do what the catechism says. It’s very clear. If you don’t find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He’s your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God’s grace immediately. You yourself can draw near, as the Catechism teaches us, to God’s forgiveness, without having a priest at hand. Return to your Father. He’s waiting for you, and He will throw a feast for you.

For those who may die of the virus during this particular outbreak, the Church provides a plenary indulgence. From her treasury of grace the Church also provides for any lack from the normal requirements to receive Holy Communion, go to Confession and to pray for the Pope’s intention. The full decree can be found online. In brief it reads:

The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12: 12). The words written by Saint Paul to the Church of Rome resonate throughout the entire history of the Church and guide the judgment of the faithful in the face of all suffering, sickness and calamity.

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended. 

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, help suffering humanity, saving us from the evil of this pandemic and obtaining for us every good necessary for our salvation and sanctification. The present Decree is valid notwithstanding any provision to the contrary. Given in Rome, from the seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 19 March 2020.

Mauro Cardinal Piacenza  –  Major Penitentiary

PASTORAL VISITS (incl HOSPITAL VISITS)

Because we should be maintaining a separation between ourselves, so pastoral visits to private homes and care homes has now stopped. It’s going to be a burden for many that the SVP, Eucharistic Ministers and the Clergy won’t be able to visit. Nevertheless, many people in the parish have received a telephone call from us, and we shall continue to telephone all those who have previously given us consent to phone them.

I shall no longer be making general ward visits in the hospital. On Mondays to Thursdays I will be in the hospital chapel from 10:00am to 11:00am to speak with staff, patients and patients’ families (while of course keeping a good distance). If there are patients who are very sick, I will attend to them on the ward while maintaining the NHS requirements of hygiene. If you have a loved one in the hospital do ask the ward staff to call me if it is an emergency. 

USEFUL WEBSITES CONTAINING MORE INFORMATION

Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:

www.cbcew.org.uk

Vatican/Papal Journalism, in English, on Rome Reports:

https://www.romereports.com/en/