Posted on the 18th December 2020 in the category News
This year, working with others, we are delighted to make available two resources for Christmas: O come let us adore Him and The Wondrous Gift. Please also see the letter from the Council of Bishops.
O come let us adore Him
The simple words "O come let us adore Him" from the well known Christmas carol "O come all ye faithful" speak so powerfully to us at this time, particularly as we think of the crib sitting, as it does, at the centre of the Christmas narrative. The Church Union and The Society, which is supported by Forward in Faith, are delighted to release on Sunday at 4pm two resources designed to enrich our crib devotions. One is a video of a crib service aimed at worshippers of all ages which was filmed at St Thomas of Canterbury, Brentwood and features local children singing carols as well as prayers and readings from the Bishop of Richborough, the parish priest Fr Mark North and the curate Fr Matt Austen. The second resource is a prayer booklet of the same name which can equally well be used for our crib devotions at home as it can be in church. It too has prayers to be used by children and we are indebted to Clare Williams for her assistance with this aspect of the booklet. As we meditate on the words 'O come let us adore Him' we think not only of the infant Jesus in the crib but also of the Incarnation, the light of the world. When we next receive Jesus present in the Eucharist, we pray that we can say "O come let us adore him" with renewed zeal and love for Him. Amen.
It can be download it here.
The parish of St Thomas of Canterbury, Brentwood has also allowed us to share its Christingle video:
The Wondrous Gift
At 7pm on Christmas Eve, the Church Union and The Society, which is supported by Forward in Faith, will release its Christmas video 'The Wondrous Gift.' As part of a brief Christmas reflection, Bishop Will Hazlewood lights the fifth and final candle on the Advent wreath, while Fr Philip Barnes explores the profound theological themes of the season in his accessible talk. The video concludes with yet more wonderful music from the choir of St Stephen's Gloucester, Road. We are grateful to all those who contributed to the set of Advent and Christmas videos and we pray that this Christmas season brings you joy and peace.
Posted on the 18th December 2020 in the category Statements
May the light of Christ be with you and your family over this season of Christmas and throughout 2021
This Christmas letter from The Society's Council of Bishops comes with our prayers as we all prepare for the season of Christmas and beyond.
In 2020 humanity has been attacked by an invisible enemy called Covid-19 which all too often is deadly or debilitating. This invisible enemy has changed our day-to-day living in a manner which we would previously have struggled to imagine or foresee. We are unable to do the same things in the same ways.
Despite the gloom and darkness that the world is facing, we are reminded at Christmas that darkness does not have any power over light. Darkness may try to prevent the light from shining, but it never holds back the light enduringly. Ultimately, the light will shine though. God as the creator of the universe is bigger than the Covid-19 health crisis. All of this will pass. All trials do. But until then, let us trust in God; God the Father who makes His Son a daily presence in our lives. Let us hand over our fears to Him so that He can conquer them.
Against this challenging backdrop, The Society's Council of Bishops met earlier this month and will do so again in early February. The conversations we had were, as ever, wide-ranging with a particular focus not only on a full resumption of our sacramental life together but also on mission and how we can best communicate the Catholic faith to our nation.
We hope that some of us will be able to gather for Chrism Masses in, or just before, Holy Week and renew our commitment to the priestly and sacramental life. We shall write again after our February meeting, including our further thoughts on Chrism Masses.
Thank you once again for your faithfulness and dedication in Christ’s service.
This year, working with others, The Society, supported by Forward in Faith, is delighted to make available two resources for Christmas: 'O come let us adore Him' and 'The Wondrous Gift'.
Posted on the 24th November 2020 in the category News
As we approach the holy season of Advent, and as we look forward to the return of public worship in time for the Second Sunday of Advent, the Church Union and The Society, which is supported by Forward in Faith, are delighted to inform you of our written and video resources for Advent, 'O Radiant Dawn'. In the written booklet - available here - you will find a reflection for use each day during Advent and under a different weekly theme: Patriarchs, Prophets, St John the Baptist & Our Lady.
In the videos - which will be available on this page on four successive Saturdays at 5.30pm, starting on 28 November - Bishop Will Hazlewood will lead us in a reflection, a priest of The Society will speak on that week’s theme and the choir of St Stephen’s, Gloucester Road will provide seasonal music. We commend not only these resources to you but also the excellent Advent resources produced by our friends at the Anglican Shrine in Walsingham as we pray for our nation in these difficult times and as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.
We would like to thank Fr Philip Barnes for all his hard work in bringing this inspiring and high quality resource together.
Posted on the 5th November 2020 in the category News
The Society, which is supported by Forward in Faith, and The Church Union join with the leaders of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales in urging you to observe a month of Prayer for the Nation during this second national lockdown. As many of us as possible should unite at 6pm each day to say the Angelus and offer intercessions for the vulnerable and those charged with their care. We hope that this short prayer booklet helps you do that. You can download the resources for this initiative here.
During this period when we are not able to gather for public worship, a reminder of the Praying at Home resource that was produced earlier in the year, which we hope will be useful in sustaining and deepening our prayer lives during this time. You can download this resource here:
Posted on the 2nd November 2020 in the category Statements
All Souls' Day 2020
A pastoral statement from The Society's Council of Bishops on the proposed suspension of public worship from 5 November
Our nation is facing a crisis of a scale and proportion unknown for over seventy years and as we write we are acutely aware of the desperate needs of those whose work is insecure, whose businesses face bankruptcy, whose education is being disrupted, whose mental health is being damaged by fear and anxiety and who can barely afford to feed their children.
We are equally aware of the extraordinary energy, agility and imagination that so many of you have demonstrated in recent months as you have risen to the task of meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the people you serve. The dedication you have shown has been profoundly moving to witness and we take great pride in the ministry you have offered.
But all that we do as God’s people flows from our worship. The Mass is and must always be the very heart and centre of our lives, our gravest duty, our sweetest joy. As we meet the Lord at his altar, we are inspired to serve and to witness. Without the Mass, ministry becomes meaningless and any acts of love and service are swiftly rendered unsustainable. We can never allow our worship to be seen as dispensable, nor can we collude with a culture that wishes to see it as one activity amongst others. The Mass is literally a matter of life and death. Without regular re-orientation towards the life of God in the Mass, we are lost, we are nothing.
That is why the decision that has been made by HM Government and which will be debated later this week in Parliament to suspend public worship for a second time this year is such a grave one, and we write above all with the assurance of our prayers as you lead your people through this wilderness. We are aware of a profound disappointment, bordering on anger, in many of our congregations, an expression of the deep longing of the people of England to gather for worship.
We are very grateful to Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop McMahon for the measured lead they have taken and the wise words they have spoken in recent days. Our experience is that the Mass has been offered in the parishes we serve with huge care and great attention to safety and so we too would ask for clear evidence of transmission of the virus within congregations before we felt able to support even a brief second suspension of public worship. We express our solidarity with the Cardinal and the Archbishop in asking HM Government to rethink this aspect of the Regulations which will be presented to Parliament later in the week.
Of course we acknowledge our duty as subjects of Her Majesty to play our part in overcoming this deadly danger to our national life. Should the Regulations be passed as they now stand, we look to our priests to act strictly within the law and suspend all public worship as they will have been directed to do.
However the sacraments of the Church are life-giving not just for us but for the nation and we cannot simply turn off the source of sacramental grace. We therefore urge our priests to use their imaginations once again in celebrating the Mass within the law as local context allows and, where possible, to live-stream the Mass to the faithful who can unite themselves with this offering through an act of spiritual communion.
We write on All Souls' Day, a day on which we are powerfully reminded of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ who, through his saving work, draws us from death to life. It is in the sure hope of that salvation that we face the weeks and days ahead, for the God who shares his life in Jesus Christ is always faithful.
Please be assured of our thanks and our prayers.