The gradual opening of our church doors to welcome people in to pray will be a joyful one, and we will be able to draw strength from the stillness and calm of St John’s once more. One of the effects of the past few months has been the highlighting of the things that are important to us. There are relationships and friendships that we’ll delight in re-kindling, there’s been a slightly gentler pace to life which has felt less pressured, and there’s been a profound sense of the challenges in practicing our faith in the exile from the Sacraments and from our church buildings itself. The continuing work of the St John’s will be to lead us into the holiness of God and draw us deeper in our prayer and contemplation. It is essential that we do not become obsessed by our church buildings. Equally, we would be unwise and irresponsible stewards of the mysteries of faith if we did not also reverence them as sacred space and visible signs of the kingdom of God in our local communities.
As your parish priest, I remind you reminded us that God is known in the particular: He was incarnate in the particular person of Jesus Christ in the particular place of First Century Palestine. He is incarnate now in the particular gifts of bread and wine transformed by the prayer of the Church and the action of the Spirit as his body and blood, and in the particular places where his people find a spiritual home. As we look to the future, the interruption to our routines of worship should have made us re-examine what a church building is for, and why it matters to us and to the people for whom it is the house of God where they find hope and encouragement.
So, we will be able to re-open our St John’s, in the first instance, for PRIVATE PRAYER from Wednesday of this week after we all the necessary risk assessments are completed on Monday. We will open the Church on Wednesday and Friday of this week from 11am-1pm and on Thursday from 5pm-7pm.
Seats will be marked for sitting, following the 2-metre rule and there will be a one-way system in place with sanitiser stations at the door. The toilet will be closed.
There will be simple adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at these times, no Benediction or public prayer.
It is suggested that those over 70 years and anyone with an underlying health condition do not visit the Church yet. This is phase 2 of the Government regulations and will last until at least July 9th. Hopefully, after that date we may be able to restart public Masses. Everyone who visits will be required to follow the guidelines we put in place and must cover their nose and mouth with a mask which you should provide. You will arrive through the main front door where you will able to sanitise your hand and leave through the side door which will be clearly marked.
Confessions will be available. This may sound rather prescriptive, but it is in the best interests of us all and, if we adhere to these guidelines, we may be able to have public Holy Mass sooner.
Thank you for your support in adhering to the guidelines.
With my prayers,