A word from Fr Joe and Fr Jonathan
This week saw a big change in our parish as Fr Laurent moved to the cathedral in Paisley and we welcome to St John’s our new priest, Fr Jonathan Whitworth. Please keep Fr Laurent and Fr Jonathan in your prayers. I know you will give our new priest a true Barrhead welcome!!
I am absolutely delighted to be joining the great family of St. John’s, and am looking forward to getting to know you and serve you! After the wonderful example of priesthood shown by Fr Laurent, I certainly have big shoes to fill. Let us keep one another in prayer.
Reflection on this Sunday’s Scripture
Being fed by our God who loves us
The Gospel passage this Sunday recounts one of the most famous miracles performed by Jesus: the feeding of five thousand people from a simple small packed lunch! The passage, however, is about much more than a mere multiplication of food. To fully appreciate this miracle we have to look at this weekend’s scriptures as a whole.
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah gives us God’s own words addressed to the old testament people who are living in Babylon, in exile from their own land. Through the prophet, God invites the people to come to Him, to be fed and nourished by Him. We are given the image of a sumptuous banquet which is a sign of the bountiful and generous nature of our God the host. To share in this, all the people have to do is come to Him with open hearts. These words from the prophet Isaiah would have meant SO much to the people in exile—God still loves them and still cares about them!
When we then look at the Gospel, it begins with the people saddened by the murder of John the Baptist, coming to Jesus. They are in need of guidance, answers, direction and solace and so they leave their homes and towns and normal everyday lives behind them to go after Jesus. They are coming to God, reaching out to Him. And what Happens? He feeds them first with His words and teachings and then with food to nourish them spiritually and physically.
And so to us. Whenever we go to the Lord in prayer-whether at Mass or in our homes- we are exactly like those people. For a short period of time we leave behind our normal lives, sometimes even our homes to meet the Lord, to spend time with Him. Leaving the normal routine behind, we reach out to God, we come to Him in humility and in our need. And what does He do? He nourishes us and feeds us just as He did with the crowd of five thousand or the exiles in Babylon. With His words and with His own body and blood received in Holy Communion, He feeds and strengthens us, telling us we are not alone, that He loves us and cares for us! This is truly wonderful for us to hear!
And so we thank Him for His goodness and His kindness. Remember, all we have to do is truly come to Him, truly want Him. He will do the rest. He loves us, He loves you!
Let us pray for all those who have requested our prayers—the Sick, the Dying and also:
Terry Conway, Linda Bisland and Stephen McCartney who died recently
The month mind of Jim McCaffrey
And the anniversaries of Margaret Carroll, James Devenney (Jnr), Nacy Goldie, James Goldie, Malcolm and Molly Ross, Catherine Mclaughlin, Robert McHale, Margaret Mooney, Thomas Donegan, Aldo Ridolfi, May McMaster
May all the faithful departed rest in peace in the arms of the Lord. Amen. Lord, hear us.
Funerals this week
Terry Conway Requiem Tuesday at 10am
A word from Fr Joe
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
There are three big pieces of news for you this week!
Number one, our church is re-opening for Sunday and daily Masses!! It has been a LONG wait and there are many restrictions still in place but at last, we’re getting there! Remember there is a booking system in place for the Sunday Masses as we are allowed a maximum of only 50 in the church at any given time. Last week the Masses booked out within hours for this weekend. The system will open again on Monday morning for next weekend’s Masses. You are asked to book online if possible via our website but there are some places kept back for those unable to book online who can then phone Fr Joe at the parish house. There is no need to book for daily Masses unless the numbers start to rise above 50, so we will keep an eye on this. When coming to Sunday Mass, the stewards will check your name against the booking list. At weekday Masses they will ask your name and contact details. This is for the government “track and trace” system in case there was a further outbreak of the virus locally. The livestreaming of all Masses in the church will continue, so it is possible to follow Mass from home. In fact, the Bishops still encourage those who are elderly or shielding or have underlying health conditions to join in Mass from home rather than take any risks by coming into a busy church. Keep in mind also that the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays was lifted by Pope Francis during the pandemic and continues to be lifted until the Holy Father tells us otherwise. This means there is no sin in missing Sunday Mass but you are very much encouraged to join in a Mass via the internet, if possible, or indeed one of the weekday Masses where numbers are not as busy. You are obviously encouraged and expected to continue with your daily prayers as you do already.
Thanks be to God, we are back for Sunday Masses and let’s continue to pray it will not be too long before we are back to normal altogether!!
Our second big piece of news is that Father Laurent will be leaving us at the end of July. He was due to return to Uganda in September but has been given permission to remain in Scotland for another year. However, Bishop John has informed us that he wishes to move Fr Laurent to St Mirin’s Cathedral in Paisley. We are very sad to hear the news and we thank him for his two years of service, fun and much joy and laughter he has given us in St John’s. It has certainly been a joy to have had Fr Laurent with us. A small consolation is that he is not going far-- Paisley is only a few minutes away by car, so no doubt we will be seeing him again often back in Barrhead!!
To replace Fr Laurent, Bishop John has decided to move Fr Jonathan Whitworth, currently in St Mirin’s cathedral, to join us here in St John’s. Fr Jonathan will also take over from Fr Joe Balmer as the lead Chaplain to St Luke’s High. So while we are sad to see Fr Laurent go, we are very happy to welcome Fr Jonathan to Barrhead. I know you will all give him a St John’s welcome when he arrives at the end of the month!
The third and final big piece of news is the new parish timetable. Please take note of the small changes so you know what is on and when in the parish during these days;
Sunday Masses—no change
Vigil (Sat) 4:30pm; Sunday 10am, 11:30am, 5pm (Places MUST be booked in advance for all Sunday Masses)
Weekdays, excluding Thursdays Morning Mass 10am
Exposition of the Blessed sacrament for Private Prayer and Adoration
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30am to 1pm. (If there is a funeral at 10am, the Exposition will begin after the funeral)
10:30am onwards. (Please note confessions are not being heard in the confession boxes during the pandemic but rather in the Oratory. Bigger room with better airflow, as directed by the Bishops.)
So, Friends, this is a big week for us. Let’s continue to pray for each other as we take another very important step on our coronavirus journey and also let’s offer a special prayer for Fr Laurent and Fr Jonathan.
God bless you all!
Please keep in your prayers
Funerals this week
Marie McCormack (Service in St Conval’s Cemetery Tuesday at 10:30am)
Maureen Coogan (Requiem Mass in church Thursday at 10am)
May McVitie (Requiem Mass in church Friday 10am)
Also the anniversraies of: Maisie McMaster, Bid McGauley, Hugh McManus and Patrick McGowan,
As well as all those who have asked us to pray for them. Lord, hear us. Lord, graciously hear us.
Reflection on this Sunday’s Scripture
This weekend’s Gospel presents us with another parable from Jesus. This time He gives the image of weeds growing among the wheat and what should be done about this. With all Jesus’ parables, as you know, he is using imagery the people will easily understand to give a much deeper teaching. The passage isn’t really about weeds and wheat but about sinners and good people existing side by side. Because of the existence of evil (the weeds) which seeks to undermine good (the wheat) and stop good flourishing, Jesus is teaching us there will always be those led astray by satan who will seek directly or perhaps without even realising it, to undermine the work of God. This may happen in the world at large, or in local society, or even our own Church or families.
How do we deal with this? Well, we are asked to be like the patient farmer in the parable who represents God. He sees what is happening, he recognises where it is coming from and the purpose of the enemy who wants to stop good flourishing but he is patient. The patience will not last forever, a time of harvest and judgement will come when the weeds will we rooted out so that the good will flourish. He sees everything, knows everything and is always watching over us. Following that example, we are asked to be understanding, patient, merciful, forgiving. The Pharisees will would weed out sinners, cast them off and leave them to wither. We are called to be not like them.
So, this weekend we are told two things by the Lord: firstly, God sees EVERYTHING and we should take comfort in that. Even if evil at times seems to have the upper hand, the Just Judge will act in His own good time and always be victorious. Secondly, in our attitude towards sinners, we are called to be not like the judgmental and condemnatory Pharisees but rather like our God—understanding, patient, merciful—because we know that in each one of us there can be weeds growing among the wheat, that we too are sinners in need of God’s patience and mercy.
Wonderful news!! We have been given the go-ahead for the celebration of Holy Mass in our parish. Things are going to look a bit different, so please bear this in mind.
The first and most important change is that YOU MUST BOOK A PLACE TO ATTEND SUNDAY MASS. The reason for booking is so that we have a list of everyone attending Mass in case there was a further outbreak of the virus in our local area. We are then able to “track and trace” all who attended church. Although our church has capacity for more, there is a maximum limit of only 50 people allowed at any one Mass. This is imposed by the government to reduce any risk of contagion. For each Mass there will be 40 places available to be booked on line by clicking the button below:
The other ten places for each Mass are available by phoning Fr Joe at the parish house 0141 876 1553 on a first come, first served basis. The booking system for the following Sunday will open each Monday so that it is not possible to book weeks in advance. This makes it as fair as possible to give everyone the chance to book a place. The times of Sunday Masses remain the same for the moment—Vigil 4.30pm on Saturday and then on Sunday at 10am, 11.30am and 5pm.
Weekday Masses will be at 10am daily, excluding Thursdays when the church is closed for deep cleaning. There is no need to book a place at weekday Masses at the moment as we do not expect numbers to exceed 50. This may need to change, however, if numbers increase. For weekday Masses, the stewards on duty will take your contact details when you arrive.
When you arrive at the church, all the sanitising and social distance guidelines from the government will be in place. You will be met by our volunteer stewards who will sanitise your hands and ensure you have a face covering (please bring one with you but there are extras available in the porch). The stewards will check your name against the list of those who have booked and show you to a seat. There is a one way system in place — entry via the main doors and exit via side doors at the Sacred Heart and Our Lady altars. PLEASE DO NOT COME ALONG WITHOUT BOOKING AS YOU CANNOT BE PERMITTED ENTRY AND THIS ONLY EMBARRASSES EVERYONE INVOLVED.
The structure of the Mass has been tweaked also: you will notice there is be no Offertory Procession, no Readers, no Altar Servers, no Eucharistic Ministers, no singing, and Holy Communion will be distributed at the end as you leave the building. Please follow the directions of the stewards who will ensure everyone is kept as safe as possible. All these changes have been put in place by the Bishops to ensure a smooth flow and reduce any risk of contagion.
Although Fr Laurent and I are are so looking forward to celebrating Mass with you again in the church, please remember and consider a few points:
I know this is a lot of information to get your head around but over the next few weeks it should become much easier for us all.
God bless you all and we look forward to seeing you at Mass.
Fr Joe and Fr Laurent.
A word from Fr Joe
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
The scripture readings this weekend focus on the importance of being open to receive the word of God. Jesus uses the lovely parable of a sower going out to sow seeds. Although he scatters the seed most generously, not all of it grows to produce a harvest. God is, of course, the sower implied in Jesus’ parable story. He is sowing His word, His teachings and Good News. However, where those words land will have a profound impact on whether or not they blossom and bear fruit. As Jesus teaches, hearts which are hard, minds which are shallow, lives which are totally preoccupied with the lure of riches or the cares of this world will never be good fertile ground. In fact, such attitudes and mind-sets only frustrate any kind of good spiritual growth. How true that is! A quick look at our modern world, so caught up in materialism and relativism, shows the many false teachings and empty attractions which can lead a person away from God and any kind of real spiritual growth. And yet, human beings are fundamentally spiritual beings. Every one of us has a soul—that part of the divine which draws us beyond the physical world to search for fulfilment in things this world cannot give, namely in God and a proper relationship with Him. So many make the understandable mistake of searching for fulfilment in all the wrong places.—things, money, possessions, bad relationships and so on. Maybe you know people yourselves-perhaps even very close to you- who are making that mistake right now.
What do we do about it? How can we help? The answer lies in our personal relationship with God. If our hearts are fertile ground for receiving His word, His Good News, then we will produce the good fruits—fruits of the Holy Spirit—in our lives. Where the word is rooted in us, it will grow and shine through our words and actions. The beauty of God at work in us is what will then draw others who are spiritually empty and yet thirsting to recognise that something they are missing, drawing them closer to God. The witness we give can have a PROFOUND effect upon others. As I have said to you often, you have the power, the ability to draw people towards God or indeed to drive them away! Does the word of God find a deep and fertile soil in our hearts and minds?
So as we listen to the readings this weekend, we pray for two things: one, for hearts and minds which are truly open to receiving God into them and two, that through us, the Holy Spirit will touch others helping them find what they are searching for—GOD. Amen.
Funerals this week
Kath Johnstone Requiem Mass Thursday at 10am.
Please also keep in your prayers
Rosemarie Strain McCorkindale and May McVitie who have died recently as well as Neil and Marion Strain, Jimmy Taylor and Gregg Thomas McMaster whose anniversaries occur round this time.
May they and all our faithful departed rest in the arms of God in Paradise. Amen.
RE-STARTING OF PUBLIC MASSES!!!
The First Minister made a long awaited statement on Thursday that public worship may re-start from Wednesday 15th July onwards. This means that we are able to have public Mass again after such a long time!! I know that like myself and Fr Laurent, for you this is a long awaited and much welcome announcement. However, it does come with understandable restrictions attached, including maximum numbers allowed to be in a church building irrespective of its size and social distancing capacity, a booking system being in place to ensure the ability to “track and trace” attendees in case there was an outbreak of the virus, some changes to the structure of the Mass, as well as continuing restrictions on weddings, baptisms and funerals. So, as you can see, it is not a simple case of just pouring back into Mass on Wednesday morning.
The Scottish Bishops are seeking clarification on some of these restrictions and will give us further instructions on Monday or Tuesday. Until we are given these clarifications, it would be unwise and indeed foolhardy for us to fling open the doors and invite everyone desperate to get back to Mass to come into the building on Wednesday morning! We all have to make sure we are moving forward in the safest and steadiest way possible. I will keep you up to date with what is happening through this website and also at the end of the live streamed 10am Masses each morning. For the time being, we will continue this week with the private prayer timetable which has been such a success. Watch this space or morning Mass for any changes!!
Believe me, as soon as we are able to have public Mass in our church safely and in line with all the restrictions, I promise you it WILL happen!!
Reflection from Fr Laurent on this Sunday’s Scripture Readings
On this 14th Sunday, mother church invites us all, to reflect in a special way on Jesus’ humility, kindness, gentility and compassion for the poor, weak and unprivileged. These virtues of our Master and saviour, are very necessary for us all in our Christian journey; to help us live and relate well with others .
The first reading this Sunday, foretells the humility of the king who was to come; Christ Jesus. The reading gives great hope of good life to the poor in spirit and the oppressed.
In the second reading we are reminded of the need and importance of living in the spirit of the creator. God’s spirit makes us His own beloved children. Let us pray for the grace to submit to God’s spirit, because once we accept to give in to God’s spirit, (to allow the spirit to direct our lives), then just like Jesus we shall possess the fundamental virtues necessary for our Christian life.
Jesus in the gospel reading reveals to us the master key to find favour with Lord. This key of humility and gentility is necessary for us to unlock the secrets that God would never make known to the proud hearted.
We pray for the grace to be humble, kind and gentle children of our heavenly father, so as to do His will. Amen.
Note from Fr Joe
“This has been a momentous week in the near one hundred and eighty year history of our parish. After months of locked doors, we are now open again for private prayers and reflection. Please God, it won’t be too long before we can celebrate Mass again together! As Parish Priest, I must say a HUGE thank you on behalf of the whole parish community to the scores of people who volunteered to be Stewards and cleaners for the re-opening of the church. It would have been simply impossible to re-open without their generosity. All has gone very smoothly and we were able to re-open the church in a safe and sanitised way.
Remember we are open every day, excluding Thursdays, from 11am until 2pm for you to visit for private prayer and reflection. If visiting, please follow the directions of the Stewards on duty who will ensure you have a face covering, sanitise your hands and give some general guidance. Remember, the toilets in the church must remain closed due to the coronavirus--sorry!
God bless you all and maybe see you if you are visiting this week.”
Funerals this week
Jim Geddes – Requiem Mass on Tuesday at 9.30am
Jim McCaffrey – Requiem Mass on Thursday at 10.00am
Please remember, there are strict restrictions on numbers attending funerals to reduce the risk of contagion. Only immediate family and friends may be in the church, agreed with the family beforehand so we know exact numbers attending. Thanks to the camera now installed in the church, you can follow live from home funerals or anything else happening in the building 24 hours a day. To do so, just click here or search St John's Barrhead on YouTube.
Please also keep in your prayers
Canon Barney Canning (former PP in St Thomas’, Neilston), Annemarie Cassidy, Maureen Coogan and Margaret Brown who all died recently.
As well as William Breslin, James Wilson and Maisie Fitzgerald whose anniversaries occur around this time.
May they all rest in peace with the Lord in Paradise. Amen.
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint John’s,
This Sunday we are celebrating the great Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Before you say we are a day early and that it is normally celebrated on 29th June, this year it has been transferred to the Sunday by the Bishops. What a beautiful Feast Day of two great Saints to coincide with the re-opening of our parish church for private prayer and reflection! Please God it won’t be too long before we are able to resume Masses but until that day comes, at least we are now able to pay a visit to the Lord in the tabernacle on the sanctuary. (Please read the guidance about coming to visit the church attached below. The main point is that FACE MASKS MUST BE WORN AT ALL TIMES IN THE BUILDING and also to follow the directions of the volunteer stewards who will be on duty while the church is open. I have to say a huge thanks to all those who stepped up to volunteer both now and when we resume the celebration of Holy Masses. In true St John’s style, we have the most volunteers of any parish in the diocese, so well done to you all!)
As I say, this is a beautiful Feast Day for the re-opening of our parish church. Both St Peter and St Paul, spent their lives bringing the Good News of Jesus’ teachings to as many as possible. St Peter, the humble fisherman called by the Lord and first Pope entrusted with leading the Church on earth after the Lord’s return to His Father in Heaven, spent the majority of his life trying to spread the Faith among his fellow members of the Jewish race. St Paul, the great persecutor of the Church who oversaw the martyrdom of St Stephen and who was converted to become a believer on the road to Damascus, spent his life journeying far and wide to bring the Faith to the Gentiles who were not members of the Jewish people. Both men were put to death – martyred – for the Faith in Rome. St Peter was crucified on an inverted cross and buried on the site of what is now St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and St Paul was beheaded just outside the gates of Rome, the great Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls marking his burial spot.
We draw so much inspiration and example from these two great champions of the Faith — their courage, tenacity, fearlessness in doing the right thing; also their simple yet profound love for God and desire to follow and serve Him as best they could every single day. Both men had their human faults and imperfections but both strove to overcome these with the help of God. The message for us is, of course, even in our imperfections and faults, God still loves us! Of course, we always strive to do better and we draw encouragement and guidance from these two great Saints.
So, as our church re-opens for private prayers, let’s make it our intention to pray for certain things—an end to this horrid virus, the resumption of our Holy Mass and the deepening and spread of our Faith in and through us.
May St Peter, St Paul and St John — all close friends of Jesus — inspire and pray for us!
Reflection for 12th Sunday of the Year (A)
This Sunday's Gospel contains the beautiful words of Jesus urging us to trust in a loving God: “Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing… So do not be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows!”
Jesus is sending out his disciples to begin witnessing to him. He knows they are apprehensive at what might happen to them: will they be accepted or rejected? Will they be treated well or maybe even stoned to death? It takes real courage to stand up for what we believe in if others are opposed to it. It’s so much easier just to keep the head down, say nothing and toe the line, even if we know in our hearts it is not correct. For those disciples two thousand years ago and for us today, knowing that God is with us, watching over us, that He knows and sees everything, gives us the encouragement and strength we need to face whatever this world throws at us for believing in Him. The words of Jesus are there to guide and help, to allay fears and inspire trust.
As I have said to you often, our faith is not there to shield us from life, helping us live in a comfortable wee bubble but rather it’s there to help us face the trials and issues this world throws up every day. I never cease to be amazed at how the Holy Spirit is at work! Just this week, someone sent me a link to an Irish singer, Eimear Quinn, singing a beautiful song called “The Watchman” – maybe try to google it or look it up on YouTube. The words are very comforting about how the Watchman, God, watches over us and the person who sent it to me was saying how she finds such comfort in the lyrics. That conviction that we are loved and being watched over gives us strength in times of difficulty and danger and we have certainly been living through such times over the past few months with this Coronavirus!
So this week, as we look forward to the re-opening of our parish church next Sunday for private prayer, let’s thank God for his watchful love and ask Him to help us deepen our faith and trust in Him. God bless you.
Note from Bishop John
Re-opening of Churches in Paisley Diocese
Following the guidelines issued by the Bishops Conference Covid-19 Infection Control Group, we are delighted to announce the opening of our churches from Sunday 28th June.
While other parts of the country may re-open sooner, we are particularly aware that the virus has impacted our local community more heavily and tragically. The people of Paisley diocese were disproportionately harmed by it and, sadly we now know, Inverclyde had the highest level of infection and deaths in Scotland. In light of this it is good for us to be sensitive, steady and careful in our approach, ensuring our people’s trust that all our parishes are fully prepared for re-opening, with volunteers and PPE in place.
From Sunday 28th onward, churches may also open on weekdays for limited periods of time if all the sanitation and social distancing guidelines laid down by the Covid-19 Group can be followed. Parish priests who are not comfortable that such guidelines are in place will be supported in their decisions to hold off for up to another week after Sunday 28th June.
All of us who have been looking forward to the day of our churches re-opening, clergy and faithful, are glad at this news. I know that those who hoped our doors would be open immediately for private prayers from Monday will understand our short delay and the particular considerations in play in our diocese that make it more appropriate for us.
I thank Canon Tom Boyle, Father Paul Brady and Monsignor Gerry Gallagher who are our diocesan representatives on the Covid-19 Infection Group both nationally and in the diocese for all their good work and continuing to advise us well as things develop around the country.
I assure you all of my prayers and blessings.
Note from Fr Joe
As Bishop John says, nothing would please myself and father Laurent more than to be able to throw open the doors on Monday, the day the First Minister says we can re-open. We have waited for the day since March 19th but a few more days to ensure as far as possible the safety of everyone visiting churches throughout the diocese, given all we have already been through, is not too big a cross to bear. Difficult as it is, it is just one more small sacrifice we unite to the Lord’s great sacrifice for us on the cross!
Next Sunday, 28th June, we will be open for private prayer and reflection from 11am until 3pm! Let’s count down the days together!
Meeting of Volunteers for re-opening the church
Would all those who volunteered to help in the re-opening of our parish church, please come along to a meeting in the church on Wednesday evening at 6pm. We will discuss then the roles which must be in place for the re-opening next Sunday. We have a great group of volunteers so far but would like even more—the more, the better!!
PLEASE NOTE: There is a change in the guidance of who can be a volunteer! Anyone, including those aged 70+, who is in good health (no underlying conditions) is now able to volunteer.
If interested, please contact Fr Joe and give him your contact details before Wednesday.
Live streaming of daily Mass
Until we are able to join together for Holy Mass in the church (please God, sometime next month), remember we now have a camera installed in the church which streams daily Mass live at 10am every day, including Sunday. Even if you miss the Mass, you can rewind over the course of the day to when it started.
Online Day for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Saturday 27th June, 1:00pm-2:30pm
Talks by Fr Matthew Carlin, Fr Jonathan Whitworth, Monsignor Denis Carlin on the Spirituality of Adoration, Scripture and the Eucharist and a history of Eucharistic Adoration. There will be Adoration and Benediction at the end of the meeting.
To access Zoom, either download the Zoom App onto your tablet or computer or click on the link and type in the meeting ID below.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 981 0940 8120
The camera has finally been fitted to the church which means we can now have Mass each day at 10am live streamed! Obviously everything is new and there may be some teething issues but we welcome any constructive comments to improve for the future.
To link in, just clink the link on this website, visit sjte.uk/live or type “St John’s Church, Barrhead” into the YouTube search box and it’ll take you to us. If you have the YouTube app on your phone, tablet, TV or other device, you can also search for us there. Remember also, if you miss Mass you can simply rewind until it started.
A special word of thanks to all those who support the Ladies Nights in the parish—it was money raised at these events which has paid for the installation of the camera and licence. Thank you, ladies! We promise to support you all the more when things get back to normal!
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St John’s,
This Sunday the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, formerly known as Corpus Christi. This is the central sacrament of our faith in which we remember and give thanks for the tremendous gift of God given to us by the Lord himself at the Last Supper and given over and over again at every Mass celebrated throughout the world. He gives us Himself in Holy Communion because He knows we need to be strengthened by Him to face the trials and struggles of this world. We all know only too well how, left to our own devices, it is very easy for us to be drawn away from what is good to follow what can indeed be very damaging for our souls and our relationship with God.
This is why Holy Communion is SO important to us and why the Mass isn’t just something we opt into when we feel like it but something we NEED to at least once per week to help, strengthen and guide us. So many great miracles in the history of our Church have centred around the Holy Eucharist. I encourage you, if you are able, to Google or search on YouTube the ancient “Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano” or the modern “Eucharistic Miracle of Buenos Aires” or many more. Not that we need them but these are proofs of the real presence of God with us in the Eucharist and are really quite awesome in content! I am sure you will be struck by these and many other miracles of our Faith.
This great Feast would normally be marked with processions all around the world, including the annual procession here in St John’s but as we all know so well, the Coronavirus has robbed us not only of our procession but also the very chance to come together to celebrate Holy Mass as those who have gone before us have done since the Last Supper. It hurts! We all feel it! And yet, through everything, we know our God is with us, walking with us, sharing the pains and sorrows as well as the joys and the laughter and we thank Him for that. On this great Feast, let’s renew that thanks as we ask God to bless us and those we love in a spiritual Communion with Him.
I have some great news for you! Firstly, it looks as if we may be able to reopen the Churches for private prayer, beginning next week. This is of course, all dependent on the virus contagion levels remaining as low as possible. Listen to the First Minister’s statement on Thursday to see if we can move into the next Phase of relaxing restrictions. If permission is given, I will put a note on our website immediately. Remember, this is not yet a full return to Holy Mass but if will be a huge step in the right direction. There’s an attachment from the Bishops of Scotland about how things might look which is well worth reading. On that note, please, I am appealing again for volunteers under the age of 70 and not in the “at risk” category (which means qualifying for the winter flu jab) to step up and help with parish stewarding and disinfecting of the church after all Masses. Thanks to those who have responded so generously already but the more, the better!! Please think about it and contact me if you are willing to help.
My second piece of great news is that finally we are hopefully(!) getting cameras fitted in our church this week. This will give us a continuous live stream, meaning you will be able to link into Mass every day and also in the future to join in devotions, novenas and everything else that goes on in the church! This should have been done before lockdown started but everything happened so quickly and then the company itself went into lockdown for two months! That’s why the majority of parishes in the diocese, like ours, don’t have the facility but hopefully this week we are on the list to get our camera fitted! (Keep up the prayers this happens, please!) Also keep an eye on this website. As soon as we’re up and running, I’ll put a note on as to how you join us for Mass. I know so many of you have been commendably linking into other parishes since lockdown began and even touring the world for Mass but finally, please God, you will also be able to come home and link into our own parish to join myself and Father Laurent for the prayers.
So, brothers and sisters and dear friends, we have a lot on this week—between thinking about the marvels of Corpus Christi, Eucharistic Miracles, hopefully reopening for private prayer and cameras being fitted!!
Keep up the prayers and the good work, everyone. Fr Laurent and I are looking forward to seeing you all soon, please God!
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint John’s,
Last Sunday the Church worldwide celebrated the great Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles gathered in the upper room. For many it is affectionately known as the “Birthday of the Church” because it was on that day, after receiving the Holy Spirit and his gifts, the followers of Jesus bravely and joyously opened the locked door and went out into the world to begin the work of the Church, telling people of the goodness and love of God through the teachings of Jesus. Each year the great celebrations of Pentecost mark the end of the Easter Season begun on Easter Sunday and the beginning of the return to Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. It’s hard to believe how much the world and us personally have gone through since the lockdown began mid Lent on the feast of Saint Joseph! That day we asked our God to watch over and protect us as we invoked the intercession of Our Lady, Saint Joseph and the angels and saints.
All these weeks later, having journeyed through Lent and the entire Easter season, we are still not yet able to return to Mass and the sacraments and I know this pains you as much as it does me and Fr Laurent. Through this difficult time, Holy Mass has been offered twice per day in our parish church for all your intentions and for an end to the horrid virus. Rosaries and Marian devotions have been prayed- all in private in the church but I know our prayers here have linked with yours at home every single day. As I said to you before, I am so cheered and lifted up by your messages and stories of how you have been keeping up your prayers, attendance at Mass on the internet (for some, travelling the world each day for Mass!), your kindness in reaching out to others and generally living your faith daily in prayer, words and actions. Thank you also for your donations to the parish handed in to the house and to all those who have set up standing orders to the parish through your bank. Well done to you!! Please keep up the good work.
On a very happy and positive note, the Bishops have asked parishes to begin putting in place what is necessary for the re-opening of churches, so things are certainly moving in the right direction!! This will still be a few weeks away and will begin with opening for private prayers and not the full celebration of Mass and everything is, of course, all dependent on the virus not increasing in our country but at least there is light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel. I will keep you up to date on this website with all that is happening but for now, please read the letter from the Bishops of Scotland attached and also the appeal for help in putting things in place for the re-opening of our parish church. There is also a link to the Bishops’ documents page, highlighting everything that is happening in moving towards the safe re-opening of churches and other church institutions.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, when we are called to reflect on the Holy Trinity-- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- three Persons who constitute the one God whom we worship and adore. Let’s pray in a special way this weekend for the blessings of God upon each of us, our families and especially upon all those affected by the virus.
May God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit protect and bless you and those dear to you!
Fr Joe and Fr Laurent
Appeal from Fr Joe: PLEASE HELP SO THAT WE CAN RE-OPEN ST JOHN’S CHURCH!!
Please God, if the virus remains at a low level of contagion, we will be able to begin re-opening our parish church in a few weeks’ time. Initially this will be for periods of private prayer each day and eventually the resumption of Holy Mass. To do this, Saint John’s needs your help!
Before we can re-open, there must be necessary restrictions in place regarding numbers, social distancing and strict cleaning protocols. At this stage I am needing people to volunteer to help welcome parishioners when they arrive, show them to seats and guide them when leaving the church. I am also needing volunteers to help with cleaning the church after every Mass (when Mass resumes) but before that, when open for private prayer, to keep watch and wipe down seats after they have been used. All cleaning materials and PPE will be provided by the parish. This must all be in place before we will be allowed to re-open.
There are, however, some restrictions on who can volunteer. All volunteers must be under the age of 70 and have no underlying serious health problems. (This basically means if you qualify for the flu jab each autumn, you CANNOT volunteer). Obviously the restrictions are there to keep everyone as safe as possible and reduce risk of infection.
I know right away there are a number of you who will be very disappointed at not being able to volunteer- like many of our usual team of fantastic cleaners who keep the church immaculate from week to week—not giving away any ages, ladies!!—or a number of the parish Saint Vincent de Paul who are our normal stewards and passkeepers.
Please God those unable to volunteer at present will resume their good work at a later date but for the immediate future, what I am needing is volunteers under the age of 70 with no underlying serious health conditions. If you are interested and would like to do this for God, the parish and fellow parishioners, please phone the church house on 0141 876 1553 or email me at email@example.com to give me your contact details. The sooner we get the list of volunteers in place, the sooner we will be able to re-open when given the green light by the Bishop and government!! Conversely, without the volunteers, we will not be able to re-open, so please think about it.