Newsletter- 4th Week of Lent

Dear Parishioners

The 4th Sunday of Lent is traditionally called Laetare SundayLaetare is the Latin word which means “rejoice.” Today before we enter the darker days of Holy Week, we rejoice as our Lenten observance is lifted slightly, we see this in the rose-coloured vestments warn by the clergy at Mass this weekend, and as we remember that this Sunday marks the midway point in our Lenten journey. 

We also keep this Sunday as Mothering Sunday. The celebration of Mothering Sunday in England can be traced back to around the time of the Norman Conquest when the custom developed of visiting the “mother” church where one was baptised, the local parish church or cathedral, on the 4th Sunday in Lent. In more recent times people working in domestic service and often living far away from their homes and families, were given the day off to go and visit their families and their “mother” church on this day. This was usually something that people did as a whole family and was often one of the only chances for the family to get together. This then became part of the tradition for people to go and see their mothers on this day as well which eventually evolved into the current tradition of giving our mothers gifts on Mothering Sunday, taking them out for lunch, and giving thanks on this day for all they do for us throughout the year.

The ancient traditions of Mothering Sunday allow us to celebrate our mothers in a special way today and their important role in our lives, but today on Laetare Sunday we should also remember Mary, the Mother of Christ, who plays an important role in the plan of our salvation. Mary looks out for us her children all year round and whenever we say a Hail Mary, we are asking her to pray for us. Today on Laetare Sunday we give praise and honour to Our Blessed Lady, our heavenly Mother as we pray for all our mothers, living and dead. 

Laetare Sunday is an opportunity on many different levels for us to rejoice, as give thanks for the presence of Jesus in our hearts and lives. Jesus is the light of our world, and we give thanks today for the light of his love and the gift of faith we have received from him. Both the First Reading and the Psalm speak of the shepherd caring for his flock. Despite David’s youth and outward appearance, the Lord sees the strength of his heart, which will enable him to lead God’s people. The Psalmspeaks of the certainty that we can rely on the Lord as our shepherd, keeping us safe from harm whatever happens in our lives In the Second Reading, St Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us too) that God’s light in us shines out for others to see when we live in goodness and right living and truth. In the Gospel, the blind man’s sight is restored, and he comes into the light. Not only is he physically able to see for the first time, but he also recognises Jesus as the Son of Man. In contrast, those around him remain in the darkness of un-belief, trapped by their unwillingness to see Jesus as he really is. This week, we pray for those who have yet to allow the light of Christ into their lives. We pray that we may carry Christ’s light to others as we walk beside them, sharing in their hardships, sorrows and pain.

Living Stations of the Cross – St Marys Catholic Primary School – Tuesday 21st March at 9.30 am. Last year St Mary’s School organised some very imaginative Stations of the Cross. We called them “Living Stations of the Cross” because they involved the creative skills and imagination and active participation of all the children. Each class has been given again this year one Station to interpret and bring to life in their own way, through the medium of art, drama, music and such like. Parishioners and parents are invited to come to join us and to pray the Stations of the Cross with our young people. Weather permitting, we shall meet in the playground at St Mary’s School at 9.30 am that day. If the weather is inclement, we shall meet in the school Hall. I personally found last year that this devotion led by our young people was very powerful, moving, prayerful and creative. 

Stations of the Cross – Friday 24th March – A reminder that Stations of the Cross this week will be at 6 pm and they will be led by our First Holy Communion Candidates and their Catechists. 

CAFOD – Lent 2022 – We still have some CAFOD Lent envelopes in a basket in the entrance of the church for you to make donations to their work throughout Lent. These envelopes can be placed in the collection plate at all Sunday Masses celebrated throughout Lent.

Heating- On Sunday 26th March British Summer Time begins and the clocks will go forward by an hour, sadly this means an hour less in bed that Sunday morning! But it will also be the day on which we turn off the heating in the Church, Halls and Presbytery this year. If we have a cold snap after this date, you will need please to ensure you come wrapped up warmly for Mass or if you are using the hall. 

Giving – As your parish priest it is difficult for me to ask you to consider giving more financially at a time when so many of you are facing real financial hardship yourselves and you have so many extra calls upon your hard earned incomes, but as your parish priest I have a responsibility to ensure we continue to pay our bills and maintain our parish and church plant and work for the building up of Christs kingdom in this place and at this time and ensure too that we can continue to do so for the future. 

What financial help we receive to maintain our parish comes in the main from your generosity and stewardship in your giving each week or month.  We are not a wealthy parish with large reserves to draw upon in hard times like these and so the responsibility for maintaining the parish rests firmly in your hands and upon your generosity and financial support. Many of you already give a great deal I know both financially and of your time and commitment to support our parish community and for this I sincerely thank you. I am not entirely comfortable myself in asking you to think of increasing your giving, as it rather goes against the grain for me, I have always believed what we give in monitory terms should be left up to the conscience and openhanded generosity of the individual, and I am aware that every persons financial circumstances are very different from another, but it remains an important fact that I need now to ask you to consider increasing the amount you may be able to give regularly to our parish if we are to maintain a sound financial footing for the future.  

There are a few simple but significant things that you may like to consider:

  1. If you are a taxpayer, please consider gift aiding what you already give, this gives us quite a lot of extra income on top of the money we receive from you, as we can reclaim on every donation the tax from the government. However, if you have stopped paying tax it’s very important that the parish is informed of this otherwise, we must pay back what was wrongly claimed!
  2. In addition, please do consider setting up regular giving through a standing order with your Bank directly into the parish account, this helps us to budget more effectively each month, as we know we have a guaranteed regular income coming in each month.
  3. Thirdly if you have not reviewed your stewardship and regular giving to the parish community in recent years, please do consider reviewing this and seeing if it might be possible to make a small increase in what you already are giving. Every little bit helps! 

With my prayers and best wishes for each of you as we continue to journey through Lent towards Holy Week and as we look forward to the great joy of the coming of Easter,

Your parish priest and friend,

Fr Jonathan


2023 19th March– Newsletter – Download