This week the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Please see the attached sheet for the details of events and opportunities this Lent. Please bear in mind, however, that Lent is not all about ‘extra activities’ or doing more religious things—it is about interior conversion. This can come about in the simplest and most unexpected ways. The key is to listen. One suggestion for the Year of the Word: read Mark’s Gospel in one or two sittings. It is short, snappy and completely transforming. Jesus’s words there will speak to you. The tools for Lent are prayer, fasting and giving alms. Let us make a good beginning together!

Many thanks to everyone who came to celebrate our parish feast day last Tuesday - it was a truly memorable evening. I would also like to thank everyone who supported it and contributed towards our celebration in any way. It was also lovely to award the Benemerenti medal, on behalf of Pope Francis, to Dorothy Landi in recognition of her seventy years of service to the parish and particularly our choir. As I mentioned in my homily, we are looking towards the centenary of the parish in 2023 and there will be much to think and pray about as we approach that important anniversary.

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord—also known as ‘Candlemas’. This is the fortieth day since Christmas and marks the day when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to be presented in the Temple. They met the prophets Simeon and Anna who had wisdom to recognise the light of God which had entered into the night time of human history. Today at the 9.45am Mass we will hold the traditional blessing of candles associated with this feast. Candlemas is also the World Day for Consecrated Life. Let us keep all consecrated men and women in our prayers, and we pray especially for the religious in our own parish, deanery and diocese.

In our Gospel this Sunday Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  In other words to bring others into that relationship with Jesus that we enjoy.  The thing about salt and light is that they do not draw attention to themselves.  Salt, when used well, isn’t noticed, it just brings out the flavour of the food.  Light is only noticed in the way that it makes the things on which it falls glow.  This week our parish celebrates it’s patronal feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  May Our Lady by the example of her ‘yes’ to God and by her prayers and maternal care help each and every one of us to be salt of the earth and light of the world.

Today is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - now also known as the Sunday of the Word of God. If you remembered to bring a bible from home or school, these will be blessed during every Sunday Mass as we mark this new feast celebrated during the Year of the Word. Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, known as 'Candlemas'. This feast marks the day when Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus in the Temple - it is a celebration of the light entering our darkness. The solemn Mass will be at 9.45am when we will bless the candles to be used in the coming year.

We will celebrate our patronal feast on Tuesday 11th February. We are holding a special Mass in the church at 7.30pm, followed by a parish party in the hall afterwards. I do hope as many of you as possible can be there to celebrate our parish feast. (There will be no 10am Mass because we are holding our deanery conference in the morning).


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