Message of the Bishop for the Mass of Sacred Chrism

My dear brothers and sisters,

I picture you gathered at Saint Michael and All Angels on the eve of this Paschal Triduum. Sadly, Covid prevents me from being with you and so I want my first word to be one of welcome and thanks to Bishop Stephen Wright who has generously travelled from Birmingham to stand in my place this evening.

It seems especially appropriate that we gather at Woodchurch, which was the scene of the last diocesan celebration before the lockdown of March 2020. The Chrism Mass is celebrated as Lent draws to its close and in anticipation of the Easter Triduum. It is a moment of rejoicing in the gift and grace of God as we echo the words of the Psalmist: “I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.” This thanksgiving has special poignancy after two years of a pandemic, and I want us to reflect this evening on ‘the great return’ witnessed in our parishes; and how this must lead us to joyfully recognise the presence of Christ anew.

The Gospel recounts the failure to make this joyful discovery. The people of Nazareth looked intently at Jesus, “All eyes in the synagogue were fixed on Him”.[i] They looked and yet failed to see the Christ, the Anointed One. Impressed by His gracious words they would reject the One who spoke, rising-up with homicidal intent to throw Him down the cliffside on which Nazareth is built. This scene foreshadows His Passion. And we now face the same, unavoidable challenge to accept or reject the claims and the person of the same Jesus Christ.

We glimpse something of this drama in the happy return witnessed in our parishes since the end of the first lockdown. This has not been a mere return of habit rather an invitation ‘to return to the Eucharist with joy.’ The joy of recognising Jesus Christ anew. In the words of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, this is an invitation to an encounter with “An event, a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”– the encounter we come to in the Holy Eucharist.[ii] This is a rediscovery of the heart of the Church’s life, and we want to encourage many more to share our joy.

My brother priests experienced this invitation during the months of lockdown standing alone at the Altar in the strange emptiness of our churches. In both solitude and by utilizing every creative means to ‘virtually’ connect people with the Mystery of the Eucharist, we were able to glimpse anew the Sacrifice and Sacrament which is the unfailing source of the Church’s life. We glimpsed with a renewed joy the vital place of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as we heard confessions in carparks and makeshift situations. The extreme efforts made to bring the Sacraments to the sick and the dying also recalled the vital place of the Church’s ministry in those supreme moments of human and spiritual crisis. Tonight, we also cannot fail to recall with some emotion, the remarkable response of clergy and people to the challenging and ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic. We did not forget the poor, nor neglect the isolated in our communities. It was your own generous efforts which enabled the re-opening of our churches and allowed them to remain open as among the safest of places. And I have no doubt it was your steadfast witness that led the government to recognise public worship as an ‘essential service’ for the well-being of society. Truly, a witness of faith that will be long remembered.

Tonight, I want us to see ‘the return’ being witnessed in our parishes and the celebration of this Easter Triduum as a personal invitation to re-discover all that has been given us in the life of the Church. For we are being invited to recognise Christ’s Sacrifice when we obey His command “Do this in memory of me”; His Ministerial Priesthood instituted in the same moment as the Eucharist; His call of perfect love in every Christian vocation and the invitation to lift up our hearts in daily prayer; the strength of His anointing received in Baptism and Confirmation and offered in the hour of sickness including our last; His grace and mercy awaiting us in the Sacrament of Confession; His Cross and Passion in which we are invited to take our small share; the Scriptures which speak of Him and unfold the story of salvation; and His risen, living presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. In recognising His grace and presence anew, we can never hesitate to say: “I will sing forever of your love, O Lord.”

May Our Lady, Help of Christians accompany us; and assist many souls this Easter to return to the Eucharist and the Sacraments, with a joy that will never end!

+Mark
Bishop of Shrewsbury

 

[i] Lk. 4:20

[ii] Deus Caritas Est & Evangelii Gaudium no. 7

Easter House Blessings

It is a pious custom to bless Christian homes during the Paschal season. The Roman Ritual contains a special blessing for this purpose in honour of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you would like one of the Canons to bless your home during Eastertide, please contact them to schedule a visit to your home. Contact information can be found here.

Via Crucis

5.30pm every Friday of Lent

Walk with our blessed Lord and retrace the steps of His sorrowful Passion in reparation for our sins, for which He was crucified.

With confessions during, followed by veneration of the relic of the true Cross.

“If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16. 24)

SPUC Event

What? The UK’s largest pro-life youth conference
When? 25th through 27th February 2022

Where? Yarnfield Park Training & Conference Centre, Stone, Staffordshire

Who? Everyone ages 16 to 35.

Why? To stand for what you believe. Stand with life. Stand for life.

Memory Project Update

A big thank you to all who have shared their happy memories of New Brighton!


These memories help set the cultural context of the Dome of Home. The postcards have proven so popular that we are reprinting another 2,500! We hope to read some of them out on radio Merseyside and Dementia radio for others to enjoy, and some will be used to accompany our forthcoming mobile vintage photo exhibition as well as augment the reprint of our guidebook. If you haven’t yet taken the time to write a memory, please do in the narthex!

Look for the Memory post cards and the red, Memories Post Box

Appeal: New Lighting & Chandeliers for the Shrine

Our project to restore the main sanctuary roof, dome and drum has been completed successfully. The church has been decorated in a colour similar to the original 1930s scheme to match the beautiful marble on the main altar. This was largely and providentially funded by a single private donor. Deo gratias!  The contractor will begin to remove the scaffolding at the end of September. 

As you know, the Institute relies on Divine Providence in our undertakings, and to date we have not been disappointed. Many good people have responded to His inspiration to help, so thank you, everyone for your time, prayers, patience and financial donations.

However, during these projects, we realised that to make this church fitting for Our Lord, it was imperative to commission several additional work.

Repair the Sacristy

 

The windows were rotten and roof leaking. This work was urgent, so we instructed the architect and contractor to proceed immediately, but we still need extra funds to pay for this.

Lighting replacement

We must now replace the old, orange lights in the nave and Sanctuary for new lights that are unobtrusive, economical, easy to control and compliment the new decor. The contractor discovered many of the existing lights were broken when he inspected from the scaffold. These fittings can’t be reinstalled so, unless we want a dark winter, we don’t have much choice but to press on. We have only a few weeks left with the ‘bird-cage’ internal scaffold, so we can save money on the installation, if we can raise funds quickly. Our Lighting Designer recommended that the failing lighting installation be replaced with 52 LED floodlights that are dimmable and provide better glare control and better colour rendition. This is not cheap and unexpected.  We need your help!

New chandeliers fittings for the Nave

Have you seen the beautiful sample Chandelier hanging from the scaffold? Such lighting fixture would really enhance our very bare nave, more in keeping with its original Italianate design. This bespoke design in the picture opposite, is made of wrought iron, electrified with 15 LED lights on 2 tiers in an Antique gold finish, manufactured by a company in the South of France. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales have very kindly donated £10,000 towards this exciting enhancement. But we still need more funds to buy three more!

National Lottery Heritage Fund has already funded the restoration of roofs and windows of the church for approximately £1.2 million but they won’t fund any decoration or lights. We will be contacting our previous funders such as AllChurchesTrust and National Churches Trust for help, but these applications take a long time to complete, and success is not guaranteed.

To download this appeal on a PDF format, please click here
To download the Donation / Gift Aid form, please click here

We rely on your generosity for this last but important phase to give glory to Our Blessed Lord!

Thank you and God bless you all.

Schedule during the Second Lockdown

Following the announce of the government to impose a second lockdown, we are rearranging our schedule to offer you everything which is possible to help you crossing this new challenge we are facing.

From Thursday 5th November our schedule will be:

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