Newsletter 28th June 2020.
Today we keep the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul – it has been transferred to the nearest Sunday from the usual day of 29th June.
I hope that you and your families are keeping well.
For the last couple of weeks, we have been able to open the Church for private prayer during the day. From 4th July we will be able to re-open the Church for Mass. I very much look forward to seeing you all again.
I will celebrate the normal Saturday Mass at 10am in the morning and the first Mass of Sunday at 6.30pm. On Sunday there will be Masses at the normal times but we are asked to restrict the number of people coming to the Church, so at least for the time being, there will be an additional Mass at 5pm on Sunday evenings. Masses will be in a simpler form – no music, offertory procession, readers or eucharistic ministers. There will be no Mass books available. Please use Gel on entering and use alternate rows of benches to help with the distancing. Also take care not to leave anything in the benches. There will be no collection baskets but a box for your offertory donations.
On 18th June I was able to attend the funeral service for Father Hartley. It was celebrated in the cemetery at Biggin Hill by the Archbishop with members of his family. We hope to be able to celebrate a memorial Mass in the Church here in the coming weeks.
Members of the Parish Council should have received a note seeking their guidance on several issues. It was not possible to arrange a Zoom Conference, so I sent out an email with a request for responses.
A reminder that it is now be possible to re-arrange the dates for postponed marriage and baptisms. Also, if you wish, I can arrange a special Mass or a memorial service for anyone who has died in recent weeks. You can speak to me about this when you come to Mass.
My rosary has been a comfort in recent days. The one that I use was given to me when John Paul II came to Southwark in 1982, so I have not excuse for not using it. It is sturdy and includes his coat of arms.
There are plenty of things to do in the garden. The cherries were disappointing and did not ripen. My new pot of parsley is doing well. I have cleaned out some of the lettuce and have started again. The basil just about hangs on and there seem to be some new leaves. The magnolia produced one or two flowers and the perfume is magnificent. This is one of the First Communion Trees, probably about seven years old by now.
Recent events recall Shelley’s poem –
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ……
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
A familiar dish but I made some cauliflower cheese recently. I used some baby cauliflowers rather than one large one. Cook them in some boiling water so that they remain firm. For the sauce, I added some mustard and used a strong Cheddar Cheese. Grate a little cheese on the top before you place the dish in the oven to brown.
I rarely mention finance, but can I make a special appeal. We have been without the normal weekly offertory income since mid-March. Thanks to those who have made donations by bank transfer in recent weeks. I realise that for some of you these weeks have not been easy financially and I fully understand this. However, if possible, I would be grateful if you could make up at least part of these missing weeks when we start Sunday Masses once again. Some of the expenditure has been reduced in recent weeks, but there are some fixed amounts such as Insurance, Council Tax and Diocesan Assessments which must be met in any event.
There are practical problems. It is no longer possible to use the offertory baskets. If possible, I would be grateful if you could consider making a standing order to cover your donations: I have put out some forms for this. Please complete one and return it to me. As an alternative I have put a box on the paper rack for your donations so that you can use this when you come into the Church. We are also investigating the possibility of card payments.
A further problem is that the Lloyds Bank in the Village has now closed so I have to go to Lewisham each week to pay in the cash. I would prefer to limit this as far as possible and the use of a standing order instead of loose cash would be most helpful. Circumstances can change so if you need to change an existing standing order, please let me know.
The boy and his sister have been back to school for a limited period. As with so many young people, the long weeks at home, without their friends and teachers, were beginning to drag and it is good to be back with them.
To London a few times recently and is surprising to see how many things have changed. The work on the old Battersea Power Station is progressing and there are now windows in the main turbine hall. It is surrounded by new blocks of flats so that it is difficult to see the old building. Outside Victoria Station there is a new glass monstrosity which looks totally out of place. And look carefully at Westminster Abbey: there is an artificial stone wall to disguise the works.
A prayer for the feast of Peter and Paul:
Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee in their death as in their life; grant that thy Church inspired by their teaching and example, and made one by the Spirit, may ever stand firm on the one foundation which is thy Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Best wishes to you all,
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon