We celebrate Mothering Sunday this weekend. Our celebrations won’t involve all the usual traditions we have become used to at St Benet’s with flowers for parents and simnel cake after Mass because of the need to observe COVID regulations. However, we will still be able to give thanks to God for our mothers and for all who have given us love at our somewhat simpler celebration of the Mass.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is an occasion on which we can give thanks not just for our earthly mothers, but also for the other “mothers” which the Christian tradition tells us that each Christian has.
The second mother we all have is our mother the church, who feeds, guides, and protects us as we make our pilgrim way through life. The church sustains us through our sacramental life together as a parish community, and “mothers” us through communicating the Gospel to us and giving us the new birth of baptism.
The third mother we all have is our heavenly mother Mary. We give thanks this Sunday for the prayers and protection of Our Lady, who hears us and prays for us always. We rejoice that she remained close to her son during his earthly life and reigns with him in heaven now. We ask to be given the grace to follow her example.
So there is much to give thanks for this Sunday. We thank God for all the ways in which his love and protection is mediated by our families, by the church, and through our communion with the saints in heaven.
Fr Peter Anthony
St Benet’s remains open for public worship during the present lockdown. Our Sunday morning 11.00 am Mass continues to take place, with weekday Masses at the following times:
Sunday 14th March 2021
4th Sunday of Lent
11.00 am Sung Mass
Tuesday 16th March 2021
11.00 am Mass of Requiem
Wednesday 17th March 2021
7.30 pm Mass
Thursday 18th March 2021
7.30 pm Mass
Friday 19th March 2021
11.00 am Mass
Sunday 20th March 2021
5th Sunday of Lent
11.00 am Sung Mass
9th Anniversary of Fr Richard Arnold’s death
Tuesday 16th March is the 9th anniversary of Fr Richard’s death. The 11.00 am Mass that day will be a Mass of Requiem praying for his soul and giving thanks for his ministry at St Benet’s.
Plans for Lent 2021
We have decided this Lent to focus on the basics during the present lockdown and on keeping the daily Mass going as our principal devotional focus. We realise many people are choosing to stay at home during the lockdown, and we don’t know when exactly restrictions will be lifted.
We usually have an extra Mass with Stations of the Cross on Fridays and Evening Prayer and Benediction on Sunday evenings in Lent. We have decided NOT to have these extra liturgies this year because of the complexities of social distancing, uncertainty about what will be possible, and the low numbers of people coming to Mass at the moment.
We certainly hope it will be possible to celebrate the whole of the Triduum publicly, though this may need to be done with slightly less liturgical solemnity than would be our custom in other years.
Sunday School will resume once we come out of lockdown and it is permitted by government regulation. This may not be possible for quite some weeks, yet, though. It will also not be possible to have our usual day of children’s activities for Good Friday this year.
Easter Day will be my final Sunday with you all as your vicar. It now looks pretty certain that COVID regulations will prevent us from having any sort of farewell celebration, so I hope the Sung Mass on that day itself will be my principal opportunity for saying goodbye and giving thanks to God for the wonderful eight years I have had the privilege of serving as your vicar.
Fr Peter Anthony
A PCC meeting with take place on Tuesday 16th March at 6.30 pm. This will then be followed at 7.30 pm (without Fr Peter present) by our Section 11 vacancy meeting. Both these meetings will take place by Zoom.
Annual Parochial Church Meeting
St Benet’s APCM will take place on Sunday 21st March at 12.00 noon in person in St Benet’s Church after the Parish Mass. We will be careful to ensure this is a COVID secure meeting with an emphasis on keeping proceedings as short a possible.
Food Bank – a huge thank you to all who contributed!
A huge thank you to all who contributed to our parish food bank. We have had a wonderful response to last week’s appeal, but now have a superfluity of provisions and can’t take any more! We will let you know when we need more donations again in the future.
COVID and worship at St Benet’s
St Benet’s is open for public worship this Sunday with our Parish Mass at 11.00 am. In order to allow people the maximum possible space for social distancing, the daily Mass will continue to take place each day at the high altar until further notice, with the congregation sitting in the chancel.
There will be no Saturday night Vigil Mass and Sunday evening Mass until further notice in order to reduce the number of services where people meet, and we will concentrate on one Sunday morning Mass at 11.00 am. Numbers of people have been very reduced at the 11.00 am Mass (frequently no more than 10-15 people) so far this year under the lock down, so it strikes me as eminently safe to gather in our large building with those sorts of numbers. The situation will be kept under constant review.
During the current lockdown, public worship remains permitted as long as we follow strict COVID measures. Nobody should feel under any pressure to come to church if you have health concerns or are worried about COVID infection rates, but if you do decide to attend the Mass, you can be assured that every possible precaution has been taken to ensure our worship is COVID secure.
We have all got used to worshipping with social distancing, a mask, and without congregational singing. It is important that we redouble our efforts to implement these measures scrupulously. I am very grateful to you all for so patiently ensuring our church remains a safe place to worship.
Please note that under the present lockdown measures, there can be no Sunday School for the next few weeks. Until now we have had outdoor activities for our children during the Mass, but even that has to stop now that the virus is spreading more quickly than before.
If you have children, they will have to remain with you during the 11.00 am service, and it is crucial that they do not run around the building, and that you keep them physically close to you at all times.