These will be produced each day, and can be downloaded here:
Please not that St. Matthew’s Temporary Church (in the hall, which we have been using as our church since work started on the main building) will now not be open for prayer, since all places of worship are now closed.
Pope Francis has composed the following prayer for sufferers from the Coronavirus. Originally used for the Diocese of Rome, perhaps we could use it as a daily prayer for keeping our praying community together. We had been opening the church at 9.00 am and closing it at 5.00 pm each day. Could we try to keep the praying parish together by reciting this prayer at 9.00 am and 5.00 pm?
Here is the text of the prayer:
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the Cross,
united with Jesus’ pain,
keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of people,
know what we need,
and we trust that you will provide for those needs so that,
as at Cana of Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
He who took our suffering upon Himself,
and burdened Himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the Cross,
to the joy of Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas — we who are put to the test —
and deliver us from every danger. O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Please note: Mass will be celebrated in the parish each day – not in the church, and not open to the public, but do remember that this central part of our parish life will NOT be suspended.
Fr Hill will record some reflections on the gospel for each day, and these can be accessed here: Recordings of reflections on each day’s Gospel, by Fr. Hill
Archbishop Tartaglia, in response to the statement made by both the Scottish and UK Governments, has issued the following statement:
“My dear Brothers and Sisters,
In an effort to help halt the spread of the coronavirus, on top of the suspension of public Mass and other acts of worship, following Government advice, we now need to close our churches. I had hoped that this would not become necessary, but it has.
The new golden rule in this battle against the virus is that we should all stay at home, if possible, and that, outside the home, no group larger than two persons should form.
We are all a bit anxious just now. I know I am. The coronavirus will have mild effects in the vast majority of people, but, according to the experts, we can expect confirmed cases of the virus to rise and fatalities to grow in number.
At the same time, our leaders and medical officers have advised us that staying at home will halt the spread of the virus, lessen suffering and save lives.
I do not want to do anything that encourages people to come out of their homes, or that causes people to gather in a group of more than two, or that might contribute in some way to the spread of the virus through some hidden contagion. Churches therefore have to close – even for private visits.
The full package of restrictions is therefore as follows:
• Suspension of public Masses and Acts of Worship
• Closure of churches
• No marriages in church
• No baptisms in church
• No home visits to the sick
• Funerals limited to the Act of Committal at the graveside or crematorium
Thankfully, Government directives still allow for the livestreaming of Masses and other acts of worship from behind closed doors. I encourage you therefore to follow Mass online, and, as you do, to make an Act of Spiritual Communion, asking the Lord to come into your heart through the grace of the Holy Spirit, even though you cannot receive him sacramentally in Holy Communion.
Mass is celebrated online from the Cathedral every weekday at 8.15am, 1pm and 5.15pm, and on Sundays at 10am and 12 noon. You can follow these Masses at www.cathedralg1.org
It is important to be aware that, if you need any personal pastoral or sacramental care, please call or email your parish priest, and he will discuss with you how best to help you in the circumstances.
I encourage you to pray unceasingly in your homes for a halt to this epidemic, for those who are suffering, for all doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, and for our civic leaders”.
THE SUNDAYS OF LENT are the building blocks of the Season. Week by week,the Sunday liturgy draws us more and more deeply into the Lenten season and in preparation for the Easter Mysteries. Week by week we will outline here the main themes of the Sunday Gospels for Lent.
Sunday 22 March 2020. 4th Sunday of Lent.
In many gospel passages, and especially in the Gospel of John, the supposed main character actually plays little part in the story. We might think of the wedding feast at Cana, where the couple don’t get a mention at all, or the story of the man crippled for 38 years, and lying each day by the pool of Bethesda hoping for a cure, and told by Jesus to take up his bed and go. Or even Lazarus, a friend of Jesus whom we will meet in next week’s gospel and who never speaks! This trend is well and truly reversed in the main character in today’s passage. Before he actually says or does anything, he is being discussed by one and all as to whether he is a sinner or not, and all because he has been born blind. Not even Jesus’ disciples seem to recognise him as a brother, a fellow human being. The debate is about whether he was blind from birth because of a sin he committed while in his mother’s womb, or was he blind because of a sin of his parents! Jesus is the only person who takes an interest in the man as a human being, and gives him the gift of sight. From this point on we see this man growing in confidence and in faith. Eventually he tackles even the Pharisees, who still dismiss him as a sinner through and through. Jesus has of course worked this miracle on the Sabbath, so the Pharisees want to stop him, calling him a sinner too. The formerly blind man now has not only physical sight, but spiritual insight: he starts to challenge the Pharisees who dismiss Jesus as a sinner, because he broke the Sabbath. The blind man says, “it is unheard of for anyone to cure a man born blind: this man – Jesus, that is – could not do the things he does unless he had come from God. The upshot is that the man who was blind can see physically and spiritually, and the Pharisees become more and more blinded to the things of God by their opposition to Jesus.
Sunday 15 March 2020. 3rd Sunday of Lent.
Year A. John 4:5-42
Over the next three Sundays, we read lengthy passages from the Gospel of John – texts which from the early days of the Church were used in the preparation of catechumens as they drew near to their baptism. We still use them for our catechumens today, but in Year A, the entire Church reflects on these remarkable stories. First in the series is the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. This is an encounter which, on paper at least, should not have happened. Jesus, a Jew is in Samaria. He is taking a big risk: as the gospel explains: Jews and Samaritans don’t have dealings with each other. Jesus should not have been there; neither should the Samaritan woman. Yes, she is in her own country, and she is there to collect water, but no self-respecting woman would be so foolish as to carry a heavy jar of water in the middle of the day – the hottest time. It soon becomes apparent that the woman is avoiding other women. Her confused and complicated marital history explains why she is there – to avoid the gossip of the others! Jesus does not judge. As he and the woman speak, she begins to think he may be a prophet, because he could tell her all about her complicated marital situation. In time, she goes even further, and is brave enough to run to her village and tell those she had been avoiding that she has just met someone she thinks might be the Christ! A word of warning though. We use the term ‘Christ’ in the understanding that it refers to the divinity of Jesus. This is not always the case in the Gospel of John. The woman has perhaps not yet reached fullness of faith, but the important thing is that she is on a faith journey. During Lent we should be asking ourselves if we are still making that faith journey too. If we are not still journeying, why did we stop? Discipleship is always about movement, journey, growth.
Sunday 8 March 2020. 2nd Sunday of Lent.
Like last Sunday’s gospel, this week’s always follows the same theme: the Transfiguration. Again, the number three is significant. Jesus’ appearance is changed in the presence of Moses and Elijah. The figures of the glorified Jesus, and the beyond-the-grave figures of Elijah and Moses are paired with the earthly trio of Peter, James and John. The scene is definitely one of a meeting between heaven and earth. Where better for this to happen than on a high mountain! The Transfiguration reminds us of details of Jesus’ baptism, where the Trinity was also present – another trio theme – the voice of the Father (unusual: Jesus is the Word of God) and the visual form of the Spirit (unusual: spirits are not normally visible). Then, as at the Transfiguration, the voice of the Father identified Jesus as the beloved Son, on whom His favour rests. The voice appears now at the Transfiguration, but with a direct instruction to the disciples: “Listen to him!” At his baptism, Jesus immerses himself in the will of God. He indicates that by immersing himself in water (baptism simply means ‘immersions’. Now, the disciples are invited/challenged to immerse themselves in Jesus’ word – they are to listen to him. Peter blurts out a desire to build three tents (shrines) to commemorate the event. This is not appropriate; it would be to contain this remarkable event on a high mountain, far from normal life. The Word of God however – Jesus – is not to be found away from people: his immersion is in humanity itself, and on the cross he immerses himself in the human condition. Disciples who listen to Jesus, the Beloved Son, immerse themselves in the human world, because the kingdom of God is found here on earth.
Sunday 1 March 2020. 1st Sunday of Lent
1st Sunday of Lent, Year A. Matthew 4:1-11
It would be strange indeed if we did not find inspiration for Lent in the Sunday Gospels for the season! On the first Sunday, we always have Satan’s attempt to deflect Jesus from his mission. This is placed immediately after Jesus’ baptism, and before he begins his ministry. The three so-called temptations may seem very distant to our own life experiences: Jesus is tested by the suggestion he turn stone into bread; to prove his faith in God by jumping from the parapet of the Temple in the expectation that God will send angels to save him; and finally to take possession of the kingdoms of the world. One way of looking at these is to pair them with the three examples of penance from Ash Wednesday – prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three categories are traditional ways of categorising any Lenten penance we could undertake, but we can develop the idea further. Each of these Sermon on the Mount categories can be paired with and as the opposite of the three temptations: The temptation to turn stone into bread, which may seem reasonable but is self-centred, is countered by fasting, which turns attention from ourselves and our desires. Jumping from the Temple and expecting God to come to the rescue sounds like an act of faith, but is really putting the Lord to the Test. Moses had much to say about this to the Israelites in the 40 years of desert living; they repeatedly put God to the test. Prayer is the perfect counter to demanding or even needing a sign from God. The final test of taking possession of all the kingdoms of the world is at heart selfishness. Think of what Jesus might have achieved by possessing every kingdom: but Jesus achieves more by renouncing everything – even his own life. Selfishness is countered by giving to others: alms-giving. And there we have our Lenten programme!
Sunday 29 March 2020. 5th Sunday of Lent.
Sunday 5 April 2020. Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
from the website of the Archdiocese of Glasgow:
UPDATE ON POPE FRANCIS’ BLESSING URBI et ORBI on 27 MARCH 2020
Whatever you are planning for Friday evening, please include this important moment … On Friday, March 27th, the Holy Father Francis will offer an extraordinary blessing Urbi et Orbi — a solemn blessing to the city of Rome and the world — from the steps of an empty St Peter’s Square.
Readings from scripture, prayers, and Eucharistic adoration will precede the blessing, which Vatican Media will broadcast live from 5pm UK time.
The plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et Orbi blessing is available to all who follow the event live or online.
The normal conditions for obtaining an indulgence are amended due to the current pandemic. It is “granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions), as soon as possible.”
The indulgence is also granted to medical professionals, first responders, and other caregivers, whose occupations put them at elevated risk of exposure to coronavirus.
In addition, the indulgence is available during the emergency to the all who follow the ceremony online and who pray especially for relief from the pandemic and the repose of the souls of the victims of the disease.
From Mgr Paul Murray, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Glasgow:
“We have been asked to widely circulate the information that the Holy Father, Francis will observe a period of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration on Friday 27th March at 5.00 pm (UK time). During this time of prayer the Holy Father will impart an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing at this time of global crisis. The Archdiocese will make this known on its usual social media platforms. Please use whatever means you have available to invite your people to participate in this moment of prayer. It will be streamed on Vatican News and will mostly be accessible through channels like EWTN. With kind regards.”
Please try to pass this information on to others
Volunteers will be available to deliver shopping to those unable to get out. Volunteers will leave messages, and anyone wishing to avail themselves of the help need only phone the number on the leaflet and an arrangement to leave shopping at a suitable place will be made.
Alternatively, people can contact St. Matthew’s church, preferably by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and their message will be passed on.