newsletter 2nd February 2020

Tel. 020 8852 5420 


5, Cresswell Park, SE3 9RD



Mass times: Saturday: 6.30 pm (first Mass of Sunday) Sunday: 9.30 am, 11.00 am, 7.30 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 10.00 am Tuesday and Thursday: 7.30 am Eucharistic Service: Tuesday 10.00 am Confessions: Saturday 12 to 1.00 pm

2nd February 2020

Today we celebrate the feast of the Purification, also known as Candlemas day. According to the Jewish law, parents were required to bring the first-born male child to the temple 40 days after the birth and to make the ritual offerings. 

Also, on this day there is a tradition to bless the candles that we will use during the year. This will take place at the beginning of the 11am Mass.

You may have heard that there was a serious accident with lighted candles in one of our Churches a few months ago and the Archbishop has asked to take special care. Please to not give lighted candles to small children.

Tomorrow, 3rd February, is the feast of St. Blaise. There is a tradition of blessing throats on this day. I suggest that many of us need the blessing at this time of year.

Wednesday is the feast of St. Agatha, on of the early martyrs mentioned in the first Eucharistic prayer. She was probably martyred in Sicily, but the exact date is uncertain.

First Communion classes have come around once again. I have asked the parents who will run the next class to come for a meeting on Monday evening at 8pm. The class will be on Saturday at 10am.  We are looking at the various parts of the Mass and the next class will be explaining the Scripture readings.

A busy week ahead – to London for a Finance meeting on Tuesday and to Christ the King College on Wednesday morning. The Archbishop has asked to meet all the priests and has arranged three days. The one for South East London will take place on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. It is an “away-day” but I have arranged to come home on Wednesday night so that there can be the normal 7.30 Mass on Thursday morning. On Thursday evening to Greenwich Town Hall for a meeting of the Education Committee.

The young people from St. Matthew Academy will be coming to the 10am Mass on Friday morning.  

The recent journey to Birmingham was interesting. On the West Coast main line, the Pendelino trains have lost their Virgin train branding and most seem to be in undercoat colours awaiting the application of the Avanti train vinyls. I travelled on West Midland trains. The time of the journey was slightly longer but very much cheaper.

Here is a soup they serve in the south of Spain. Cook a piece of fish, such as hake with some garlic, an onion, some parsley, lemon juice and a bay leaf with plenty of water. Simmer gently and after about half an hour add some rice and adjust the water if necessary.  I remember having this for lunch one day during a long day at Jerez airport – but this is another story.

A prayer from the psalms: There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long, to live in the house of Lord, all the days of my life, to savour the sweetness of the Lord, to behold his temple.

A loaf of bread, the Walrus said,

Is what we chiefly need;

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed –

Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed.

Best wishes to you all

Monsignor Nicholas Rothon

Feast of Purification.

Today, forty days after Christmas we celebrate the feast of the Purification. To meet the requirements of the mosaic law, Joseph and Mary brought the new born Christ child to the temple in Jerusalem – to fulfil the precept as given in chapter 13 of Exodus – Sanctify unto me all the first born – this commemorates the night of the flight from Egypt when the first born of the Egyptians were smitten and the first born of Israel were spared. The normal custom was to make an offering of five shekels and to present the child to the Lord.

At the same time the mother gave thanks for the birth of her child and a sacrifice would be offered according the means of the parents – a lamb or a pair of pigeons or turtle doves.

So today we think of the Holy family, probably with many others, making their way to the temple in Jerusalem, seemingly unnoticed by many, to perform their ritual duties. But as they enter the temple, they are recognised by an old man named Simeon – he does not seem to be one of the priests or Levites but is simply described as an upright and devout man – who had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah – the Christ child. And now this moment has come – prompted again by the Spirit he recognises Joseph and Mary as they enter the temple and formally recognises the presence of the infant Messiah.  He makes his own personal declaration – Master you can let you servant go in peace – because my eyes have seen the salvation that you promised – his prayer, his canticle, the Nunc Dimittis, has become a familiar hymn in the liturgy of the Church – daily at night prayer but also in the ritual of a funeral – for Simeon it is the end of a period of waiting, the realisation of his hopes, but it is far more than that – it is the formal declaration that the time of the Old Testament has come to an end, the new age, the age the Messiah has dawned.  Previously, the visitors to the Christ child have been filled with personal wonderment – the shepherds are simply astonished at what they find as they respond to the message of the angel – and the wise men simply fall to their knees to give homage – but here is the formal declaration of the presence of the Messiah – my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all nations to see –

And as if to confirm the words of Simeon, an elderly woman called Anna, who spent much of her time in the temple greeted them as well – the child will bring deliverance to Jerusalem. In both Anna and Simeon, we see the great signs of Jewish religious faith – cherishing God in their hearts and welcoming his presence.

This is long before the prophecies of John the Baptist – this is the Lamb of God – or the wonderment and the initial expressions of faith by the apostles and the other disciples, leading to Peter’s declaration, you are the Christ of God. Yet it is a beginning, formally enshrined in the rituals and ceremonies of the Jewish law.  Not ignoring or denying the value of the past, but rather seeing it as a realisation of the hopes that have gone before. It means that we see the events of the old Testament, the history of the Jewish people, not as something to be laid aside, but as a preparation for the coming of the Messiah and today’s feast is a celebration of day on which this is formally recognised.

There is a phrase in Luke’s gospel which comes after the visit to the shepherds – Mary treasured all these things an pondered them in her heart – and at the end of his narrative of the infancy and childhood of Christ – Luke says- Mary stored up all these things in her heart. It is as if Luke is pointing in his own way to the human nature of Mary, the young mother of a new-born child – pondering on all that has happened and trying to work out what it all might mean. And it is the same for us – pondering these events as we commemorate them year by year and asking in our own hearts what indeed they can mean.

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