In the light of current events and the particularly surrounding the suspension of Mass with the Faithful, a special edition of Orate Frates (our newsletter) has been published. Read it here. It contains information about plans for live stream webcasts of Mass, which will continue for your sanctification during this troubled time.
My dear brothers and sisters,
I think of you all each morning at the Altar and each evening as we pray the Angelus before the statute of Our Lady in the Cathedral. I think of your families and your work; of the loneliness of old age and the generous hopes of youth; of those seeking their vocation, especially the men discerning their vocation at the Cathedral and our seminarians preparing for the priesthood and the young couples preparing for marriage; I think of all our priests and deacons and consecrated women and men, and of the whole mission of our Diocese. We know that in the offering of every Mass our lives, our prayer, our work and our sufferings are “united with those of Christ and his total offering, and so acquire a new value”i. In the simple prayer of the Angelus we also seek to unite ourselves to the “yes” Mary gave to God’s word and thereby to Christ Himself. In the Angelus we say with Our Lady, “Let it be to me according to your word”.ii This is a perfect prayer to accompany the Year of the Word.
At the beginning of Lent, the Book of Genesis tells how human history began with our first parents saying “no” to God and his loving purpose. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that: “Man, tempted by the devil let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command”iii. This is original sin and “all subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness”.iv Yet amid the disaster of this primeval fall, we hear the first announcement of the Gospel telling of the Saviour to come and of a New Eve, the Mother of Christ, who would truly be the Mother of all who live. Together with Our Lady we now repeat her fiat, her “yes” to all God asks of us and to the grace God wishes to pour into our hearts.
In a time of amnesia – forgetfulness – of the Christian past, we recall how England began with this desire to say “yes” to God’s grace, in order that a once pagan people might share Christ’s victory in the wilderness by learning to live “by every word which comes from the mouth of God” and worshipping and serving the Lord God alone.v Our national identity would be forged by the Christian faith we now share. England’s Monarchs would entrust this land to the Mother of God so that, like Mary, we might respond to God’s word in faith. They recognised England’s high destiny to be a place where the joy of the Annunciation will never fade. vi
This year, the Bishops invite us to renew that solemn act of entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary amidst the de-Christianisation of our society, re-echoing the call with which Lent begins, “Come back to me with all your heart”.vii On the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we will make this act of entrustment together at the end of Mass. In Shrewsbury Diocese, I want us to also make this entrustment throughout Lent using the simple and profound words of the Angelus. Where Monarchs once acted on behalf of their people, today may this same act of dedication be renewed in the hearts of each one of us. Let us entrust ourselves, our families, our diocese and our whole nation to the Mother of God that we may say with her, a decisive “yes” to God’s grace and God’s plan for our lives.
The Angelus seems especially appropriate for this purpose, for it is the prayer of the Angel’s announcement to Our Lady. Following the Second Vatican Council, Saint Paul VI commended the Angelus prayer especially for our times as it vividly recalls with the words of Scripture the Incarnation of the Son of God and leads us to pray that we may be led “by his Passion and Cross to the glory of his Resurrection”. viii Pope Paul asked us to use this prayer “whenever and wherever possible” amidst our working day, however busy we might be.
This Sunday, prayer cards will be distributed across the Shrewsbury Diocese so we can have the words of this beautiful prayer to hand. I wish to invite you to pray the Angelus with me each day and especially around midday on Wednesday 25th March, when we celebrate the great feast of the Annunciation. The two or three minutes we give to this prayer will be like a ‘breath of fresh air’ in the middle of the day, allowing us to raise our minds and hearts to God and to re-direct all to His glory.
United with you in this prayer and entrusting us all to the most pure heart of Mary,
Bishop of Shrewsbury
From 10.45am to 5.00pm, all are welcome to join us for a day of prayer, catechism and community at St Winefride’s church. There will be catechesis for adults and children, a bring and share lunch, children’s activities and a community activity. Come for all or part of the day. Contact Adeline Rayment for more info on 07530521568 or adelinemoe(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)hotmail.co.uk
In order to facilitate a complete re-wiring of the electrics at St Winefride’s, weekday Masses will be suspended for the time being. A date for resumption of the usual schedule will be advised in due course.
This does not effect Masses on Saturday and Sunday where Mass will be celebrated as usual.
Weekday Masses at the Cathedral Church of Our Lady Help of Christians and Saint Peter of Alcantara are as usual, details of which can be found in the occuring weeks newsletter here.
Thank you for your warm Christmas Greetings and for the generosity you have shown to us in so many ways over the past year and especially recently as the New Year approached. This coming year of Our Lord 2020 will be a year rich in His Grace. It is my prayer that we will recognize the many opportunities which will be offered to us to cooperate with Him in the work of redemption, not only for our own salvation, but for those of our families, friends, acquaintances and those with whom we come into contact in our daily lives.
This Christmas Season will conclude with the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord which is also the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady on Sunday the 2nd of February. Let us take these last weeks of the Christmas Season, a Season of Light, to reflect on the light we have been given in Christ Our Lord, a light that should not be hidden but placed on a stand so as to shine in the darkness for all to see. As a sign of this, candles are blessed on that day and distributed before a solemn procession that brings the Light into the world, a manifestation or Epiphany of Christ in the World.
This year of Our Lord is also the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. So I ask for your prayers for this young foundation, for its founder, Monsignor Gilles Wach and for the co-founder and rector of the Institute’s seminary, Very Reverend Canon Philippe Mora together with all of the priests, oblates, sisters, seminarians, members of the Society of the Sacred Heart and those discerning their vocations as postulants with the sisters or as candidates for the seminary. I ask also for your prayers for the apostolates, works, and missions entrusted to the Institute. Please pray especially for the Bishops and the clergy that support this young Institute. May God reward you for your prayers and sacrifices offered for these intentions.
Be assured of my daily prayers for you and your loved ones.
In Christ the King Sovereign Priest,
Prior of the House of St. Chad
My dear brothers and sisters,
Advent begins amidst a General Election campaign which surely invites us to pray for those offering themselves for election and for the choice we must soon make as a nation. An election can be a time of many and conflicting words. Yet, Advent calls for a renewed attentiveness to the Word, the word God spoke in His Son. For Christ himself is “The eternal Word (who) became small – small enough to fit in a manger. He became a child so the word could be grasped by us” (Pope Benedict XVI Christmas Homily 2006). We come to know Christ, the Eternal Word through the Scriptures and the living tradition handed down in the doctrine, life and worship of His Church (Cf. Dei Verbum n. 8).
In the year ahead, we are celebrating a Year of the Word across England and Wales. This is an invitation to a renewed attentiveness to the God who speaks. We will heed the words of Saint Paul who urges us to, “wake up now” (Rom 13: 11) and accept Isaiah’s joyous invitation, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord … that he may teach us his ways …” (Is. 2:5). In the Gospel, Jesus Himself tells us why we must be so attentive, “Stay awake … you must be ready …” because “the Son of Man is coming …” (Mt. 24: 42-44).
We have need to read, study and, above all, to pray the Scriptures because as Saint Jerome memorably observed, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” I hope you may be able to take advantage of the many opportunities in our 2020 Diocesan programme to deepen our love and knowledge of Scripture. However, the Sacred Liturgy is the privileged place for us all to hear God’s word. For when the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people (Cf. General Instruction to The Roman Missal 29, Sacrosanctum Concilium n.7). In the celebration of every Mass we see how the Word and the Eucharist are so closely bound together that Christ’s presence in the word proclaimed leads us to recognise Him anew under the forms of bread and wine (Cf. Saint Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei n. 39). As Emeritus Pope Benedict explained, “Unless we acknowledge the real presence in the Eucharist, our understanding of Scripture remains imperfect” (Cf. Verbum Domini n. 55). In every Mass we want our hearts to burn within us as we hear all the Scriptures which speak of Christ so we can say with the first disciples He “explain(s) the Scriptures to us.” For it is Christ Himself we seek through all the pages of Scripture leading us to open our eyes in faith to recognise Him in the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist (Cf. Lk. 24: 13-35).
A precondition for so recognising Him is something we can lack amid all the noise of contemporary life: that is attentive silence. Saint John of the Cross reflected that, “The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word He always speaks in eternal silence, and in silence (He) must be heard …” (Spiritual Maxims). This leads us to gather quietly in preparation for Mass; to listen silently to the Scriptures read and proclaimed; and to go to our knees in deepest silence as the priest lifts the Host and Chalice that all eyes may be fixed on Him present as God and man (Cf. Lk. 4: 20). In a remarkable book entitled “The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (2017) Cardinal Robert Sarah reflects on our need for silence. For without silence we cannot hear the God who speaks nor recognise Him in the silence of the Eucharist. We all need to find this silence in our lives. Yet sometimes our parish churches can lack the attentive silence of prayer and an excess of talking can mark church life today when we have such need of deeper and more attentive silence. Cardinal Sarah quotes the words of Saint Teresa of Calcutta who said, “God is the friend of silence … the more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in active life … The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. Jesus is always waiting for us in silence.”
At the beginning of Advent, may I invite you to seek such silence and to rebel in your own lives against “the dictatorship of noise” so we hear the God who speaks. Let us find some time each day for silent prayer; quietly open the pages of the Gospel and take up the Gospel prayer of the Rosary which leads us into the silent prayer of Mary’s Immaculate Heart (Cf. Lk. 2:19). Let us spend the precious time before Mass coming to know the silence of Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament. There, as Mother Teresa said so simply, “Jesus is always waiting for us in silence.” Together with Pope Francis, let us ask Our Lady to help us listen (Cf. Aperuit Illis n. 15) so we can pray amid the confusion of conflicting words and the uproar of many voices, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38).
May I wish you an Advent blessed by such silence, and a truly happy Christmas,
Bishop of Shrewsbury
A Novena of Sermons in Preparation for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
From November 30th until December 7th, we will have a Novena of Sermons concluding with Benediction in the evenings at 7pm. On the Tuesday and Friday the sermon at 7pm will be followed by Holy Mass.
Guest preachers will include Fr. Montgomery, Fr. McGuiness and Canon Jason Apple from the Seminary of the Institute. After the Friday Mass, there will be a reception in the Hall to welcome Canon Apple to England.
On the Feast itself we will have a High Mass with Canon Apple as celebrant.
On December 7th, because of the evening Novena, we will not have the First Saturday Day of Prayer and Catechesis which will resume on January 4th.
All Saints – Friday 1st November 2019
There will be an extra Mass at St Winefride’s in the morning with Holy Mass at St. Winefride’s at 11.15am and 7pm.
There will be a Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral at 7.30am.
All Souls Saturday 2nd November 2019
Will be celebrated together with a Day of Prayer and Catechesis. The theme will be on the 4 Last Things and the Eschatological Role of Our Lady. Further details of the day will follow.
Retreat for Mothers 9th November 2019
A Retreat for Mothers will take place which will include Holy Mass and will conclude with a 3pm Holy Hour. Open to all mothers.
Novena for the Faithful Departed
This will commence on the 3rd November and until the 11th November. Anyone from outside our area who does not have easy regular access to traditional liturgy may wish to contact Canon Smith or Father Gribbin to make use of this. Contact details can be found here.
Bishop Davies wrote a Pastoral letter on the occasion of the canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman last Sunday. Please, we encourage you, to take the time to read it. You can do so here.