Dear friends and parishioners of St Stephen’s,
The announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday means that there is a new level of public seriousness in our response to the spread of the coronavirus. I daresay that, like me, you will have woken (presuming you slept at all) this morning with feelings of fear, anxiety, confusion, and profound concern. To know that I have to close the church door is almost unbearable, and to be unable to share the life-giving sacraments and unable to gather in prayer and fellowship is painful indeed, although the measures that have been put in place are a right and proper way of keeping us safe.
So I just wanted to be in touch with you this morning to say three things.
First, remember that at St Stephen’s the praying won’t stop. I will be keeping the round of Daily Offices and I will offer Mass at 12 noon after saying the Angelus. That praying is for you. If you are able, join with me spiritually by praying the Angelus and use the ‘When Mass is not able to be said publicly’ resources I sent last week. I’ll send more resources later in the week for this coming Sunday, and we’re looking into a livestream on Easter Day – I’ll send details of that as soon as I can.
Second, tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Annunciation (yes, you can have a drink!) and remember the truth that festival celebrates. Because of Mary saying yes to the angel, God is with us in Jesus, and having come to be with us, he has no intention of leaving. No matter what may befall our nation or what you personally may have to endure, Jesus is with you. He who bore pain on the cross bears also the pain of all who will suffer from this virus. He who rose again in glory guarantees that hope and love will always triumph over fear and darkness. Nothing can ever undermine that truth. Bishop Jonathan is livestreaming Mass tomorrow at 9.30am. Join him via his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BishopOfFulham/
And third, remember, this will not last. Maybe through all this we might recognise with even greater clarity those things that we value and come to love them even more. One day we’ll be together again – and what a celebration that’s going to be!
Do keep in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7937 4263, or mobile 07833 132500
With my love and the assurance of my prayers,