The Catholic Bishops have announced that “following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS“ we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March, until further notice. The celebration of Mass will continue, but without a public congregation. Please note that the Bishops have also suspended your obligation to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holydays "for as long as the emergency circumstances last".

    Dear parishioner

    Message No 12: Pentecost (Whitsunday) 31st May 2020

    Today’s Mass Readings (for the Mass of the Day)

    Acts 2: 1-11; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13; Sequence; John 20: 19-23

    Fifty days after the Resurrection, we celebrate the promised descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. This day is also called Whitsun (’White Sunday’) in England.

    The First Reading is the famous account in Acts of the tongues of fire coming upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. This marks the beginning of the Church’s proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The Psalm is a poem of creation, recalling the role of the Spirit at creation.

    Second Reading: the Spirit is given to every Baptized person, but different people have different gifts.

    The Sequence (which is obligatory today) is a beautiful poem composed by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1228. It should be sung (you can find the tune online). The phrases "Thou, of all consolers blest" and "Solace in the midst of woe" will have a particular resonance in this time of the coronavirus emergency.

    Gospel: Christ Himself confers the Holy Spirit on the disciples. The greeting of the risen Jesus - "Peace be with you" - is that used by a Bishop at the beginning of Mass.

    In summary, the Holy Spirit is present in the universe (Psalm), in the Bishops, successors of the apostles (First Reading and Gospel), in every Baptized member of the Church (Second Reading and Sequence), and is active in the preaching of the Church (First Reading and Gospel).

    Pentecost Sunday
    National Rosary Rally 9:00am - 9:00pm

    Following the Pope’s request to pray the Rosary at home in May, especially in the lockdown, the Archbishop invites you to join the Pentecost Sunday National Rosary Rally across England, Wales, and Scotland. Our Archdiocese has been asked to pray the Rosary, to ask Our Lady for deliverance from COVID-19, between 3:00pm and 4:00pm today (it doesn’t matter what time during this hour).

    Please go to two prayers provided by the Pope which you can recite at the end of the Rosary.

    Come, Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
    Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.

    Liturgy of the Word for Children
    Ingrid La Trobe has compiled another YouTube video for the children for this Sunday. Simply go to the parish website ( and follow the link. There is a separate PDF which the children can do at home, making headbands with flames.

    St Thomas’ Parish Prayer Group
    To join the parish WhatsApp Prayer Group please send a text message to either Deacon Neil on 07394 112514 or Ingrid on 07775 742871, with your name and the church you normally attend and you will be added to the group. You can then ask the group to pray for whatever intention you wish.

    Holy Trinity, Otford
    Today is the anniversary of the Consecration of Holy Trinity, in 1981 by then Archbishop Michael Bowen. Sadly we can’t celebrate that Solemnity [which would have been transferred to tomorrow] with Mass in the church, but those who normally attend Mass there may wish to celebrate tomorrow at home.

    This week
    Eastertide ends today. Tomorrow Ordinary Time begins. For those who recite the Divine Office or follow the daily Mass readings, it is Ninth Week. Visit Universalis for the Liturgy of the Hours and for daily Mass readings.

    In 2018 Pope Francis added a new memoria to the universal calendar: the Monday after Pentecost is the memoria of Mary, Mother of the Church [except at Holy Trinity, see above].

    Also new, the Thursday after Pentecost is the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest. This feast is proper to England & Wales (ie, you will not find it celebrated in other countries). This Feast has a special meaning for priests, who have been Ordained to act in the person of Christ at the Altar, offering Christ’s self-sacrifice as a saving victim for the whole world. This Fr David and Fr Paul continue to do each day in the lockdown, albeit with only the angels for a congregation.

    It is now possible for us to hear Confessions, but only by appointment and with the necessary precautions in place. Please telephone or email to make an appointment; you will need to come to St Thomas’s.

    St Thomas’ Parish Prayer Group
    To join the parish WhatsApp Prayer Group please send a text message to either Deacon Neil on 07394 112514 or Ingrid on 07775 742871, with your name and the church you normally attend and you will be added to the group.

    Live-streaming update
    I have formed a St Thomas’s live-streaming implementation team (or ’Slipstream’) which has met by Zoom. Progress is being made, and a camera ordered. There are various technical issues to be resolved - internet access, cabling, microphone capability, etc - as well as other issues such as Safeguarding, copyright, and security, which the team is working on.

    Bishops’ Conference
    For Cardinal Nichols’ interview comments about reopening Catholic Churches.

    Visit Bishops' call on Government for the Bishops’ call for support for migrants and refugees during the COVID-19 crisis.

    For teenagers
    Go to Christ is Alive for videos in the diocesan Youth Service’s Christ is alive series. In the long run you will find it more useful than anything on TikTok, Instagram or Snapchat.

    Community care
    From tomorrow - once Eastertide has ended - instead of the Regina Caeli you should sing the Salve Regina whilst washing your hands (or recite the Paternoster, the Lord’s Prayer).

    This confinement can be a difficult and worrying experience for many: for help and guidance about wellbeing and mental care.

    Isabelle Mercer from the Sevenoaks Food Bank writes that "St Thomas’s parishioners were very generous as always and we are so grateful". What is now needed are tins of meat and tins of carrots, cooking products (olive and vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, condiments, flour, mayonnaise), grooming products (shampoo, body wash, deodorant, tooth brushes, toothpaste), and cleaning products of any kind. Deposit in the box in front of the garage at Glebe House, Shoreham Lane, Riverhead, TN13 3BS.

    Risus Paschalis
    The harassed Parish Secretary suddenly realised she hadn’t done the Order of Service for a Funeral starting in an hour. To speed things up she found an old Order of Service and used the ’search and replace’ function to insert the correct name. All went well, until the mourners found themselves saying in the Creed that Jesus "was incarnate of the Virgin Winifred".

    Two thoughts - of ’lockdown theology’ - for you to ponder and perhaps discuss as a family. First, our enforced isolation should give us an insight into, and a heightened concern for, the enforced idleness of people like prisoners, and refugees and migrants.

    Secondly, we need to remember that God, the Holy Spirit, is with us since that first Pentecost, albeit at times almost unseen or unremembered. We may still be in the wilderness, unable as the Body of Christ to gather on a Sunday to receive the Body of Christ, but God does not abandon us. The Holy Spirit will empower us to make this a fruitful time, if only we are open to his guidance and prompting.

    A parishioner has sent me a Pentecostal haiku:

      Moves billions of leaves
      one breeze, each blade uniquely:
      Spirit us inspires!

    Fr. David.

    Fr David Gibbons, KHS, Parish Priest of Sevenoaks
    12 Granville
    Sevenoaks01732 454177
    TN13 1ER


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