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Message from Fr. John to all parishioners.

It is with sadness that I have to announce the complete closure of our Parish Church, St. Edmund of Canterbury, Loughton. But in compliance with the Prime Minister’s address last night, and with a great sense of everyone’s well-being it is absolutely necessary!

If it is possible, make a special place of prayer in each of your homes. Place a crucifix, An open bible, a rosary, a statue of Our Blessed Lady, a candle. You may like to begin & end each day by lighting your candle as a family and simply praying the Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be together, and any other family prayers you may have. Prayer really focuses the mind & heart.

In every celebration of Holy Mass I will keep all of your intentions in my heart and offer them up to the Lord through His Holy Eucharist. In these difficult and trying times, we must never lose faith or hope. Jesus said “I have overcome the world!”

I will celebrate Holy Mass each day at 10.00am. If you are free to join us through Facebook, you need to access the St. Edmund of Canterbury Loughton FB site.

Please be assured of my thoughts, prayers & love as we continue on this strange journey. May God Bless You All.
Fr. John

ST. EDMUND OF CANTERBURY, LOUGHTON.  RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS

DEAR FRIENDS IN CHRIST,
At this very difficult time throughout the world, when people are worrying and anxious about Coronavirus, in conjuction with the Medical Health Officer & The Bishop’s Conference of England & Wales, The Catholic Church has made the decision to cease all public masses & services. This includes Daily & Sunday Masses, Baptisms, Weddings, Confessions, Funerals, etc. There will be no congregating together as Community. This is totally unprecedented; we have never known anything quite like this before, but we must continue to trust in the Lord Jesus, and pray daily that Almighty God will be with each one of us and our families.

ST EDMUND’S CHURCH
I will be praying Morning Prayer each day at 8.30am offering the Intentions for our whole Parish Community.
I will then celebrate Holy Mass on my own at 9.00am behind closed doors.
I will pray Evening Prayer at 6.00pm once again behind closed doors.

HOLY WEEK & EASTER
If we are able to set up a Livestream we will broadcast all of the Triuduum & Easter Services. Hopefully this will be a way of keeping in touch. I’ll let you know details when I have them.

Liturgical Advice for the Bishops of England and Wales in the light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES

Liturgical Advice for the Bishops of England and Wales
in the light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
18th March 2020
This advice will be reviewed and developed as necessary weekly

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having consulted the Ordinaries of the Dioceses, has agreed that the cessation of public liturgies should begin from Friday evening 20th March 2020. Because of the situation the Church finds herself in, the obligation for the faithful to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday or Holy day of Obligation is removed, until further notice.

The following instruction is now given for the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church at this time.

Celebrations of Holy Mass

Priests (parish priest and assistant priests) who hold parochial office should continue to celebrate Mass in a church within their parish without the faithful on a daily basis. Other priests (i.e. retired from office or entrusted with a non-parochial ministry) may celebrate Mass without the faithful in a church, chapel or their private home. Deacons should not participate in these celebrations.

The continuing celebration of Mass ensures that the faithful can join in spiritual communion with the priests of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (1364): As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out. Daily liturgical resources for those at home, including those for making a “Spiritual Communion” with the priest, will be available on the CBCEW website.

Information about the live-streaming of the celebration of Mass will be made widely available in our dioceses so that the faithful can participate in the prayers of the priest at Mass at home. A fine example of this is from The National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham will continue its full liturgical programme and this will be available to all via the Internet (www.walsingham.org.uk)

Wherever possible, during this period, churches will remain open, especially on Sundays, for individual private prayer, without any organised services, and offering prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Baptisms

Baptisms should be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can gather safely. In case of necessity, baptisms should be celebrated with all the hygiene precautions that have been laid down by the Church in its COVID-19 advice.

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Confession may be offered on request as long as hygiene and social distancing requirements are observed (eg a physical barrier between the penitent and the priest such as a grille and cloth). The use of Rite II and Rite III of the Rite of Penance is not permitted as this, by necessity, requires the gathering of people in our churches.

First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion

These celebrations should be postponed until a time that allows for families and friends to gather safely within our churches.

Confirmation

The celebrations of Confirmation should be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that congregations can resume public worship.

Matrimony

If possible, the celebration of the sacrament of Matrimony should be deferred until such time that people can gather in numbers safely. However, if this is not possible and only in the most pressing of circumstances, then those present for the marriage should be restricted to the celebrant, bride and groom and immediate family, and if necessary, the legal Registrar.

Anointing of the Sick

No pastoral visits should be made to people who are self-isolating until the isolation period ends. However, do offer phone support. When anointing the sick, the Oil of the Sick can be applied using a cotton bud which can be burned afterwards (one end for the head and the other for the hands) and the priest extend his hands over the sick person for laying on of hands, without physical contact. This has been confirmed as a valid mode of celebrating the sacraments which involve “laying on of hands.” Visits to people in care homes or hospitals should follow advice from the staff on infection control.

Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil

This will be dependent on the forthcoming decisions of the Bishops for the Holy Week ceremonies.

Funerals

There must be great pastoral sensitivity to this issue. The funeral service should take place at the graveside or at a crematorium, subject to the conditions laid down by the cemetery or

crematorium authorities. Arrangements should be made for a Mass to be celebrated in memoriam when congregations are allowed to gather.

Rev. Canon Christopher Thomas General Secretary
18th March 2020

A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES

A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.

Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.

However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.

Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.

We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the ‘serious reason’ why this obligation does not apply at this time.

You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.

The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.

During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.

‘The Lord is my shepherd, There is nothing I shall want.’

May God bless us all.

Vincent Cardinal Nichols President

18th March 2020

First Sunday of Lent, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ, 

1st Sunday of Lent 2020

The Holy spirit led Jesus into the desert for forty days to be tempted and tested. During Lent we too are led by the spirit into the mystery of Jesus’ sojourn in the desert. ‘By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert (CCC540). Lent, then, is a journey into the desert. We too, during this holy season, can expect to be tempted and tested.

getbehindmeThe name Satan means ‘adversary’. In the book of Job, we are given a vivid picture of Satan in God’s heavenly court, along with all the other angels, where he has the role of accuser or prosecutor. The Scriptures identify Satan as the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam and Eve and, therefore, as the origin of sin and temptation. What the Scriptures and tradition make known is than humankind has a mortal enemy who, although a finite being created by God, is in a desperate struggle to overthrow God’s reign, usurp his Lordship and lead his creation into darkness and death. On Easter Sunday each of us will recite our baptismal promises and in doing so renew them. Bear this in mind as we move through lent because, as you will be aware, a renewal of our baptismal promises involves us actively, freely and voluntarily rejecting Satan.

lentLent is also a time for us to discover anew and afresh the gospel, the Good News which Jesus began to proclaim immediately after his time of testing. What is the Good News? The Good News is a message in two parts; the first part is to repent, and the second part is to believe in the gospel. We walk together on this road marked out for us by the church and take up our call to stand firm and resist the devil, knowing that he will flee, and embracing freely and with love the gospel, which is Christ with us and in us, the hope of salvation.

‘In these days, therefore, let us add something beyond the wonted measure of our service, such as private prayers and abstinence in food and drink. Let each one, over and above the measure prescribed for him, offer God something of our own free will in the joy of the Holy Spirit. (St. Benedict)

7th Sunday of the Year 2020

Dear Friends in Christ, 

7th Sunday of the Year 2020

We learn better if new teachings can be related or ‘pegged’ to what is already stored in our minds. The primary school child may be taught one way of understanding, for example, rainfall, but by secondary school a more sophisticated and scientifically accurate explanation will bring the child closer to the truth. In the light of further research in adult life, the student usually learns once more to discard some previously acquired ‘knowledge’ and to embrace a deeper understanding.

Jesus teaching in the same ‘organic’ way. He loved the law and would do nothing to discredit it, but his mission was to complete it. Thus, he often begins by reinforcing the familiar with ‘You have heard that it was said…’ The new understanding usually expands, rather than reduces, the message of the law, making it more radical and at the same time more loving. ‘Be perfect…as your heavenly Father is perfect’.

sermonThat perfection includes loving not only your friends but also your enemies. We are called to radical commitment to the Good News, which involves more generous, more prayerful and more willing to set aside our own needs for the good of others. But loving our enemies? This sounds like and impossible goal – we often struggle to be in the same room as them! Jesus is trying to help us to see the world a little more as God sees it. For God, there is goodness within each person; every person you meet is created in the image and likeness of God. Our task is to make room for everyone. Firstly, because that is how God is, but secondly because we do not want to be in bondage to our resentment and thus fail to grow in our own relationship with the Lord of love. Our efforts will demand much more of us spiritually and even emotionally but will pay dividends in a new kind of interior freedom.

We have already seen this attitude lived out – in Jesus himself, who shows us what God is like. Jesus loved his enemies, forgave those who mocked him, scourged and crucified him. In this sense, we can say that the Sermon on the Mount predisposes us to live a life of self-giving, in imitation of Christ.

6th Sunday of the Year 2020

Dear Friends in Christ, 

6th Sunday of the Year 2020

sermonmountGreta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist, her voice shaking with anger, told world leaders at the UN in New York, ‘You have stolen my childhood with your empty words. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is the money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth – how dare you.’ Many things make us angry, and some anger is right, fit and proper. Sometimes we know we are wrong to be angry; much more often we think we are right. We think the fault lies with others – they have made us angry. Or else certain situations provoke us to anger – and because these are bad situations, we feel that we have the right to express our anger. Jesus teaches with extraordinary clarity that ‘everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says: “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.’

Must we take Jesus seriously? Jesus’ radical teaching on anger sees it as the root of murder. Angry feelings, if they are nursed and not dealt with, become hatred. The fruit of hatred can sometimes be actual murder. Jesus warns us to avoid the possibility of such appalling fruit of our anger by dealing ruthlessly with the initial feelings of anger. He does not say that we cannot feel anger, express anger or even act on it. What he says it that we do not have the right to hang on to it, nurse it and vent it. Instead we must learn to let go of our anger so that we can imitate him better.

chooselifeThere were, of course, occasions when Jesus himself knew righteous anger and expressed it – but his anger never led him to sin. When he was betrayed, insulted, ridiculed, tortured and crucified, he had full right to feel angry. However, Jesus let go of his feelings of anger and forgave his oppressors: ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Jesus shows us a new way of living. As his disciples we must emulate him. Whenever we are angry, we must acknowledge our anger and then let it go by calling on the Lord’s grace. Christ’s Spirit will give us the power to fulfil his commandment to live as he did.