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.