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