Monday, 11 February 2008

Lent I

The sun shone brightly all around the church and especially through the great East Window for the early Mass. This was celebrated by Fr Mark. At the end of the Mass both of us and Roger, our Lay Reader, had time to greet the members of the congregation amongst whom was the preacher for our Good Friday Liturgy.

The sacristy work was all laid out and at 9am we started the recitation of Lauds and the daily prayers we recite after Lauds, mainly the Prayer for the Brethren of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) and the Angelus.

The choir started their rehearsal after we finished the office. They were preparing two pieces for the Mass today: a Kyrie by Schubert (from the Deutsche Messe) and the Lenten Prose. During the rehearsal the servers were busy getting everything ready and the sidesmen giving out books and our new edition of the bulletin. As from today we are using the Forward in Faith edition of the bulletin with space inside to write our parochial notices. It has been received very well. Usually I was left with 80 or 90 bulletins, today with a mere 12.

Fr Mark presided and I concelebrated in the Holy Sacrifice. The church was once again full – Laus Deo! We even had some enquirers for baptism. I was the preacher during the Mass and today we explored the word temptation and the meaning of the temptations suffered by our Lord for our own Christian living.

In the notices Fr Mark announced the Pastoral Visitation that John our Bishop is going to hold on Wednesday 27th February. The programme consists of Mass at our school were the school altar will be used for the first time. The bishop will then go to the Clergy House where he will meet the Pastoral Team of the Parish and share lunch with them. At 3pm the bishop will preside over the bi-monthly communion service at Gloucester House Residential Home and at 4pm visit patients at Sevenoaks Hospital. Finally, at 5pm he will end the day by presiding over Vespers in church. Please keep this visitation in your prayers. It was also announced that a French choir from Languedoc will be visiting us in May.

Last week I announced that we were considering a set of twelve vestments. It is very encouraging to report that these have now been donated. Over and above a generous benefactor has paid for a new monstrance. The new items should be arriving in the Parish this week and I will update the blog as things happen.

After Mass I greeted people at the door but sadly not in the hall as I had to attend a meeting with Richard and Ian our churchwardens. I think this was the result of a very good Standing Committee we had last Thursday night. We discussed future matters of the church for about an hour and now are mulling over some exciting ideas. I am also very grateful for the work that Roy and Frances have done in the sacristy.

At half past three I visited the hospital and was sad to learn that yesterday the gentle lady who lived to a 102 had passed away. I ashed her on Wednesday and administered the last rites on Friday. I know she was a good lady though I have never met her before. She worshipped in the same church for over ninety years! I was moved when one of the staff was telling me this afternoon that during her long career in that hospital she never has seen anyone looking as peaceful after death as this lady looked. In fact after ascertaining death through usual procedures she still felt for the pulse several times so peaceful she looked: Pretiosa in conspectu Domino, mors sanctorum eius!

Finishing my usual rounds I enjoyed taking my time up the hill and chatting with people I met. I was in time to go to church and prepare for our evening Lenten devotion which is a truncated form of vespers with a reflection give by our Lay Reader. The theme for this year is Lent with St Benedict. Roger is a Benedictine oblate and so he knows his staff. After the reflection which today introduced the concept of spirituality especially the Benedictine one and briefly looked at obedience, we all received benediction with the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed “ad ostium”’ (at the tabernacle door). As a focus for this Lenten devotion we are using an image of St Benedict painted by Roger himself. (See attached photo)

After I parted company from Fr Mark and wished him a good day off I went to our Parish Hall where I spent some time with our youth club known as BOBs. They are engaged in finding ways how to thank people in our community for the work they do. I think this is a very noble gesture and will follow it with attention.
Back home did some filing and correspondence and thanked God for giving me such a wonderful day, surrounded by so many good people.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 150 anniversary since the first apparition. As our Lady was appearing at Massabielle, our church was being shaped and formed. I will place the Parish under the mantle of the Queen of the Pyrenees as I offer the Holy sacrifice.

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