The Bishops' Conference are now providing some good material to help us all pray at home during these difficult times. These can be accessed on the website of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. You will also find there the prayers for the re-dedication of England to our Lady this Sunday. These prayers have also been placed on the Bulletin. Please remember to print off the bulletin and drop it into the letterbox of anyone you know who does not have access to the internet.
It has been great receiving feedback on our online Masses. You may not realise but the only technology we have is my mobile phone so we do not even have the ability to connect better microphones and we were limited with the very bad internet connection we have at Giffard House. For this reason, we have been recording the Masses and loading them up onto youtube afterwards. We have now upgraded the data package on my mobile phone so that we can bypass the house connection. This means that next week we will try live streaming the Masses. The quality might not be so good but it would mean that we are all praying the Mass together at exactly the same time. The Vatican has also directed that the Easter Triduum services may only be streamed live, so it will be good to practice doing this next week.
Please note therefore, that some of the Mass times have changed next week. Check the parish diary or the bulletin.
The Pope has announced that tommorrow, Friday 27th March , he will preside over a moment of prayer outside St Peter’s Basilica. “I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication”, he said.
The ceremony will be broadcast live from the Vatican, beginning at 5pm UK time. It will consist of readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
At the end Pope Francis will give the 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the City of Rome and the World) blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The Urbi et Orbi blessing is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.
I'm sure that like me, you are beginning to realise the full impact of the social restrictions that have been implemented to curb the advance of the virus. Here in the parish office at SS Peter & Paul we have worked on providing a framework for communication through this website but obviously, it is only any use for someone who has access to the internet. As I said at Masses in the last two weeks before we had to close the churches, it is therefore essential that we use the telephone to check up on each other. If everyone is phoning a couple of people each, then it is like a tree growing out across the parish. I have already heard of great initiatives with people using whatsapp groups and a lovely story of someone holding their telephone to the computer during Mass online so that another parishioner could hear it. Through simple gestures like this, we can keep everyone connected to the parish family.
If anyone has other ideas of helping keep the lines of communication open, please let me know.
Keeping you all in my prayers, and especially at daily Mass,
The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, has asked us to share the following statement with our local communities:
"Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday introduced significant social restrictions, which touch on everyone’s lives across the West Midlands. These are unprecedented in peacetime and I know will be hard on you and your families.
I want to assure you that my officers and staff will continue to work every hour of every day to keep you safe. We will protect you. That is our duty and that is my promise to you.
But this is my ask of you. I urge the people of the West Midlands to follow the new instructions. They are essential and it will save lives. Nothing is more important.
Officers and PCSOs will be visible in our communities and I have asked them all to engage positively but safely with anyone we suspect is in breach of the new regulations. Officers will explain what the new restrictions are and what we expect of everyone.
If we have to talk to you we will:
If people do not listen to our advice then we will move to enforcement.
We are already receiving many calls on potential breaches of these arrangements. People can advise us if there are large scale breaches with large numbers of people congregating via webchat or 101. We would ask you to trust that we will target the most problematic behaviour.
This will only work if people make sensible choices and observe what they are being told.
You can keep in touch with West Midlands Police by following @WMPolice on Twitter, on Facebook as well as signing up for community messaging where you live via WMNow.
The country is facing a challenging period when helping each other and being good neighbours and friends has never been so vital. As Chief Constable I know our communities will rise to the challenge and we will all work together to prevent the spread of the virus."
Please pray for all those who work in the emergency services at this difficult time.
Chaplain to West Midlands Police
In his Address to the Nation the Prime Minister outlined the necessary steps that we must now take to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. The Government has mandated the ‘closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores, and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship.’
This means that, until further notice, and with immediate effect, all of our churches must now close their doors to the public. This policy must be implemented without exception. This is an essential component of our contribution to fighting the Coronavirus and living out the Lord Jesus’ commandment to ‘love our neighbour.’ (Mk 12:31).
The Prime Minster also stated that all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals, must cease.
Given these extraordinary circumstances, the opportunities for us to pray together using technology becomes even more important. There are plenty of resources on our website to help us do this. One example is the daily Mass which is available online. Another is praying at home at specified times of the week, knowing that many others are doing the same. For example:
Keeping you all in my prayers,