September is the month when so much starts afresh. For me, in September 1950, I came out of the RAF following my National Service; in September 1963 I was ordained a Deacon and went to serve as a Curate at St Michael and All Angels in Wythenshawe.
This was very appropriate as September is the month of the angels. What do we know about angels? They are there, in heaven, around the throne of God giving him constant praise but they also have a role in the lives of all those on earth. We each of us have a Guardian Angel for support and comfort in times of trouble. The angels act as messengers from God, like Gabriel at the Annunciation. In the Old Testament Jacob, in his dream, sees a constant procession of angels going up and down the ladder leading from earth to heaven.
As we come out of the Lock-down we are all having to make fresh starts in so many ways. Let us pray that the children all over the country and in particular in our own school make a safe and successful start to their new term.
As Autumn reminds us that Winter is not far off and we see around us the early signs of nature dying away, let us resist any air of gloom and think of the fresh starts that we are all having to make.
We are now in August, the month that we always associate with holidays. I wish everybody well for whatever type of break you have planned, whether staying at home, going away somewhere in this country or even flying off to an exotic location. We all need a break.
This month we celebrate a number of the major feast days in the church’s calendar. On Sunday 16th we hold the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. This feast is very important in the Travelers’ community; in normal times they would be gathering in their hundreds, coming from all over the country to Our Lady’s shrine at Walsingham but sadly are unable to do so this year due to the virus.
On the 4th we remember St John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, who is the patron saint of priests and four days later St Dominic, the founder of the preaching order of the Dominicans and who introduced the use of praying the Rosary.
On the 6th we remember the Transfiguration when Jesus was revealed in all His glory to a group of his faithful apostles.
Let us pray for one another in this most difficult of times that after this holiday period we are able to pick up again the threads of everyday life physically and spiritually refreshed.
How wonderful it is to be back in Mother Church after so many weeks of ‘lockdown’ with all the uncertainties, concerns and fears that have come into our lives in recent months. I think we take the church for granted until it is no longer available to us and so I hope we will return with thanksgiving in our hearts and give honour to Almighty God. Sadly we will not be able to have our usual ‘diet’ of incense, music and the theatre of the Mass but it is right to start slowly until we are certain that all is well.
Please keep in your prayers all who are separated from loved ones by this terrible virus. Pray particularly for those in hospital or in the community who are suffering the effects of COVID-19, giving thanks for the NHS, Care Home staff, GPs and many more who are doing a marvellous job and coping in very difficult circumstances.
I have missed seeing you all and I look forward to being with you again and praising God in the place we love best.
With every blessing
Here we are once again into the season of Lent. Forty Days of waiting, of preparation. The Forty Days come to a glorious climax with the celebration of Easter – the Feast that expresses the real meaning of our belief as Christians.
We hear stories so often that there is a tendency to switch off, to forget exactly what it is that we are commemorating. At the end of Lent, Good Friday, in the solemn ritual at 2pm we will remember how Jesus was put to death by being nailed to a cross. Yet two days later on Easter Sunday we remember how he rose triumphant over death. He had suffered the torment of the Passion and such an horrific death to atone for the sin of all mankind yet by overcoming death, through his Resurrection we know that the pathway to heaven is clear and open to all those who choose to follow it.
In Lent we are getting ourselves ready to join all churches throughout the world in the Paschal celebrations. We need at this time to take a hard look at ourselves; no-one is spiritually perfect. How can we improve? There is a tradition that we improve by giving something up during Lent. That is one way but another way is to do something extra. We are so well off, we have much more than we need. How can we share our good fortune with somebody else who is in need of help?
As part of your Lenten preparation why not join us in the service of Stations of the Cross on Sundays at 6pm (not March 22nd). Please take home a Lent collection box to donate money for charity.
Spring is upon us! The days are getting longer. When I was in Oldham at St James the ladies always commented that from the second Sunday in February you could eat your Tea without lighting the Gas.
On 2nd Feb we celebrate the Presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple; the Jewish custom was to bring a new baby to be presented in the Temple forty days after the birth. On the same day we celebrate the Feast of Candlemas – light is being restored in the world; darkness has been overcome. Candles are blessed and taken home; in the past they would have been the only evening light in the house.
In the Temple Mary and Joseph meet Simeon, a very old man who had been promised by the Lord that he would see the Messiah before he died. He holds the child and recites the beautiful words of the Nunc Dimittis – we repeat his words each month at our service of Compline.
We are almost in Lent – Ash Wednesday is on the 26th Feb. Let us make a resolution that this will be a time of prayer and preparation; it doesn’t have to be a time of “giving up” but should be a time for doing something extra as we prepare ourselves for the momentous events of Holy Week and Easter.