THE PARISH PRIEST WRITES:
Message No 50: 21st February 2021
Todays Mass Readings: FIRST SUNDAY of LENT
Genesis 9: 8-15; Psalm 24; 1 Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15
First Reading: After the flood, God places a rainbow in the clouds as a sign of his covenant with his people. The flood of Noah is portrayed as being like a new creation, and this is what happens in Baptism. As the Prayer over the Water in the Rite of Baptism puts it (addressing God): "The waters of the great flood you made a sign of the waters of Baptism, that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness".
The Psalm picks up on the idea of Gods covenant with us, and what it means in practice.
The Second Reading makes two points. First, the saving waters of Noahs flood prefigure the saving waters of Baptism. Secondly, the ark prefigures the believing community (ie the Church); it is only if we are in the Church (the ark) that we can be sure of being saved.
The Gospel on the First Sunday of Lent is always the account of Jesus forty days in the wilderness and His temptation by the Devil. This sets the length and the abstinence and penance of the season of Lent.
Interestingly, it is the Spirit who drove Jesus out into the wilderness. Although the Son of God, the human Jesus had to struggle against the Devil and be tested in this way.
The second collection is for Poor Parishes in the Archdiocese. Please put your donation in the Second Collection (next to the First Collection box/plate) or - at St Thomass - use the contactless device in the Entrance. Some of the small parishes have been badly affected by the lack of income in the pandemic, so this Fund is needed more than ever.
Pope Francis Message for Lent 2021
This accompanies my weekly email or may be viewed here Pope Francis Lent Message.
Stations of the Cross in Lent
Because of the COVID situation there will not be public Stations of the Cross this Lent in any of the churches. Instead we have prepared online Stations of the Cross, with music by some of our singers and pictures of the Stations in the four churches, which you can view and pray in your own time. Just go to the Daily Mass link on the Parish website (http://www.sevrcparish.org.uk). The Holy Trinity version will be available from Sunday at 12:00 noon.
Lent Course: No Greater Love
Our parish Lenten programme is No Greater Love: A biblical walk through Christs Passion. The course will be every Tuesday evening over Zoom. To register or enquire about the course please contact Deacon Neil.
Visit Lent for various resources for reflection and meditation this Lent, for families as well as adults and individuals, provided by the diocesan Agency for Evangelization & Catechesis.
Also the diocesan Spirituality Commission is offering a Retreat for Lent, which you can follow in your own home. Each week there is a short video reflection, prayer materials and other resources, to help you make the best use of whatever time and opportunity you may have during your week. Click on Follow Me.
The priests can hear Confessions as long as COVID precautions are taken, and this may well mean outside. You can approach the priest if there is plenty of time before Mass but more likely after Mass. Alternatively, contact me or Fr Paul to make an appointment.
CAFOD Fast Day
This Friday is the CAFOD Lent Fast Day.
In an extremely remote and mountainous region of Ethiopia a young man, Abdella, has to spend 10 hours each day to find water for his family. He has no time to develop his education or training so as to find a job to sustain him and his family. To help end water poverty and provide other vital support to poor communities in Africa, South America and the Far East, please donate:
Thank you for your generosity.
- using the CAFOD envelopes, available with the Newsletters. Please use these especially if you can Gift Aid your donation, and put your donation to CAFOD in next Sundays Second Collection;
- online to Give;
- by texting LENT to 704560 to donate £10 (you can text multiple times).
Support for Malawi
If you wish to send some money to Fr Bonis diocese in Malawi, to support their COVID relief or for other purposes, contact Caroline Stockmann by today (Sunday) at the latest. She will co-ordinate a single bank transfer and pay the bank intercontinental transfer charges.
A lifeline for troubled marriages
During the lockdown many marriages are facing the strain. Recently one couple in the parish attended a Retrouvaille Marriage Rescue weekend (online), and they say that it "has made a huge difference to us".
The next one is on 25th - 28th February: see Retreat. The couple would be more than happy to talk to anyone who would like more information (contact them through Fr David or Magda). They say that people dont have to wait until they are in trouble; it is hugely valuable for people who want happier marriages.
Family Zoom Quiz to raise funds for Kent refugees
Another Parish Zoom Quiz next Sunday, 7:00 - 8:00pm, hosted by Gina Hartnett. This will be a fun inclusive event for everyone, young and old, in the Parish to join in via Zoom. We have been unable to have our usual social activities this year: no Summer Garden Party or Christmas Party. And so this will be a Zoom based social activity which may seem a bit strange to some of you. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, no worries we can help you to set it up.
The number of refugees reaching Kent by boat was four times greater in 2020 than 2019. At least 8,400 people made the crossing in 2020 and more than 300 have died since 1999. Our own SVP, based in the Parish, works with some of these refugees. Kathy Gonzalez will give a short presentation about the growing needs in this area.
To get the Zoom link to join the quiz and details about how to donate please email Ben Andradi. Please join; it will be a fun for all the family and the whole event will take an hour.
What can one give up this Lent, when we have already given up much during the pandemic? Instead one can do something positive. Perhaps, like Simon of Cyrene, we can give encouragement to those who at this time carry the cross of suffering, bereavement, the loss of their job or business; like Veronica, we can give comfort to those who are affected by the burden of illness, pain or the exhaustion that comes with caring for a sick or disabled family member.