MOTHERING SUNDAY (4th of Lent) 22nd March 2020
Yellow Book Page 159
“GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH, A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE.
Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains
be carried into the midst of the sea”
Psalm 46 is called The Jerusalem Prayer. It is something that we should know by heart.
“The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge”.
This is our prayer right now!
Looking at the Gospel today I realise that for three consecutive weeks there has been reference to Jesus touching people. The very thing that we must now avoid! In the Transfiguration (Lent 2) Jesus deliberately touched the disciples to reassure them when they were so afraid. Last week he reached out to the Samaritan Woman and shared a drink from her bucket. Today he makes a paste with spittle rubbing it onto the eyes of a blind man. (That may not be a miracle but a simple use of an abrasive compound to remove a veil of skin from the man’s eyes). The point is that The Lord automatically reaches out, restoring people to health and dignity with nothing more than the touch of his hand. With hindsight each one realised that they had encountered something or someone, more than just human, but perhaps, could it be… he was somehow divine! To the blind man Jesus says ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’. I remember another fellow, also in John’s Gospel, who had lain on his bed for so many years but he was at the Pool of Bethesda Jn5. I wonder are these the same place…? Turns out that you have to understand the subterranean plumbing system in the old city. Jerusalem is built on a hill top “Strongly compact” Ps122. It served as a great stronghold in every generation, except where did they get fresh water? 1800 years BC the hillside was a Canaanite settlement. Water permeated the bedrock from the “Spring of Gihon” in the Kidron valley (cf 1Kgs1). The spring flows frequently but intermittently according to the season. Then 800 years BC, anticipating the invasion of the Babylonians, King Hezekiah cut a tunnel through the bedrock towards the spring. This was the Siloam Tunnel, a major technological achievement forming a complex curve following a natural fissure in the rock. The prophet Jeremiah was contemptuous. He said “there’s no point putting your trust in a leaky water system if you don’t put your trust in God in the first place!” (Jer2:13). The Siloam Pool (above) survives as the first accessible water source deep in the city floor. The tunnel is still accessible today. Outside the city, the spring was deliberately covered and hidden so that it’s whereabouts might remain unknown to intruders. Further into the city the “Pool at Bethesda” was a reservoir that stored water using an underground syphon system. As the waters rushed to and from this pool, this is what caused the mysterious disturbance described in John5v7 Hence Psalm 42v7 “One deep calleth another, because of the noise of the water-pipes (BCP Coverdale Psalter). One last thing: Preliminary to the “Confession of Peter”, the Synoptic Gospels also describe the healing of a blind man but they say that this was at the Pool of Bethsaida and this is yet another place!
Bethsaida (The home of Philip, Jn1v44) is 60 miles north of Jerusalem near Galilee. Has John deliberately transferred this episode? No doubt The Lord healed many blind people but perhaps these are the same accounts. Is John suggesting that you need to look at events in Jerusalem for your eyes to be opened and understand the saviour? Whatever, it all points in the same direction: Christ touches us in our deepest need. This is why Psalm 46 “The Jerusalem Prayer” should be our prayer today: “Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge”.
Devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament If you would like to help sustain a vigil at OLSS during the week please indicate your name on the rota inside the church. This is not “Congregational Worship” but an act of private devotion. No more than FIVE people to be present at any one time. Angelus and Benediction at Midday. If you have your own breviary or lectionary Evening Prayer will be offered at 4.30. I will offer Mass each day PRIVATELY in OLSS at 9.00am. Similarly St Josephs will be open with exposition 9.00-12.00 on Sundays 6-8.00pm on Tuesdays and 10-12.00 on Thursday. No more than FIVE people to be present and keep well-spaced apart. Please observe the regime for hand sanitisation. Among the Sick Please remember: Ann who has been unwell, now at home. Mary, presently in QEH. Ann in Lewisham Hsp following a fall last Sunday. Alicewho has been unwell, at home. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Frances following the unexpected death of her daughter Faustina last Thursday and the family of Susan who died unexpectedly on Wednesday night.
Mass will be offered Privately Each Day for the following intentions
Saturday OLSS 21st 6.00pm The Well Being of all the people
Sunday OLSS 22nd 8.30am Ann B
Monday OLSS 23rd 9.00am Faustina (RiP)
Tuesday St Js’ 24th 5.30pm Ann M
Wednesday OLSS 25th 9.00am Jimmy F
Thursday OLSS 26th 9.00am Gertrude M (RiP)
Friday OLSS 27th 9.00am Jacinta O
Saturday OLSS 28th 6.00pm Susan (RiP)
Sunday OLSS 29th 9.00am The Well Being of all the people
I have just received (Wednesday afternoon) formal instruction from Archbishop John concerning the corona virus:
As from this Friday Evening we are prohibited from celebrating public Mass in church and the distribution of Holy Communion.
From Saturday, and until further notice, there will be NO SUNDAY or WEEKDAY MASS. Everybody is encouraged to follow the daily readings and to make a “spiritual communion” at home. OLSS will remain open throughout the day. It is my hope that we might sustain an ongoing act of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament from 9.00 until 12noon and perhaps even to 5.00pm each day. At this moment I must still take advice. It may be possible to create a rota where people may take 20 minutes or an hour or so throughout the day. Even so, it may be that we will be limited to a very small number (3or4) at any one time. (The Blessed Sacrament must never be left unattended). Meanwhile all other rites and ceremonies with congregations in church are suspended:
BAPTISMS must now be deferred until public health permits that congregations can gather safely.
The same is true for:
WEDDINGS Unless there is some pressing reason why a wedding should take place. In this case those attending will be strictly limited to the priest, bride & groom and immediate family.
FUNERAL ceremonies are now prevented in church but must be conducted at the graveside or in a crematorium “subject to the conditions” in those places.
I am aware that there are already members of our congregations who may have contracted the virus and are now self-isolating. My own family is affected: My sister-in-law has been bedridden in Hoddesdon this week and we have some uncertainty for the care of my father in his own home aged 93. Meanwhile I intend to continue to be available for confessions and will endeavor to administer the sacrament of anointing of the sick according to need. (There are strict guidelines to be observed). At the present time we have no idea how long these difficult restrictions will remain. It seems that it will be impossible to celebrate the much-loved Easter Liturgies. Conditions may continue well into the summer. With the closure of the schools, Children’s First Holy Communion and other annual celebrations are likely to be cancelled.
We know as Catholics that the celebration of Mass is the heart of our relationship with Christ. A little group is investigating how we could publish “livestreams from OLSS” including those provoking “Marmite” Biblical reflections to which you have grown accustomed. I will continue to offer Mass at the altar but I am only permitted to have ONE person present to make the responses. In this way we can remain united to the Sacrifice of Christ in your local church at Greenwich. It may be a bit “hit and miss” at first but stay tuned. Double check the Facebook page from this weekend at – Our Ladye Star of the Sea –
Meanwhile many people have messaged to say that they are ready to help with shopping, prescriptions, or any domestic matter if you are contained at home. So, don’t be afraid to call the presbytery. I fear we may only be at the beginning!
God Bless you all,
Among the Sick Please remember: Ann who has been unwell, now at home. Mary presently in QEH. Ann in Lewisham Hsp following a fall last Sunday. Alice who has been unwell, at home.
Post expires at 5:44am on Friday April 24th, 2020