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Thought for the Week - 19th February 2024


Lent has well and truly begun now. I think it is important to see it as a joyful season, not a time to be gloomy, even though we are making little adjustments and changes to our daily routine during Lent. Whenever we remember that we have given up something that we normally enjoy, then it is an opportunity to bring us closer to the Lord because it is for Him that we are doing our commitments and penances. During Lent a number of us are committing to celebrate an early Mass on a Friday. Obviously it take a bit of effort for us to get up very early but is good to remember that every Friday is a time to remember the first Good Friday, the feast of the Lord’s love for us.

As I glance at the Litany used at the Parish Thanksgiving Mass on 6 th January, it includes those who serve at the altar. I believe those who serve at the altar are called by Our Lord Jesus to do so. That calling can come through being invited by someone to do so, encouragement from their parents/carers or simply being inspired by those already serving on the altar. Our servers are very close to Our Lord present in the tabernacle and on the altar, so they are inviting through their ministry to grow in friendship with our Lord. Through their participation on the sanctuary, they enrich the liturgical celebration. Like all ministries our servers are prepared and trained before beginning to carry out their duties as a Server. In the training they learn that reliability and reverence are the two most important requirements of a server. Before going through the practicalities of how to serve, we teach them the names of the sacred items which they will be handling; such as the Corporal, the Chalice and the Ciborium. We are blessed with currently over twenty regular Altar Servers across the three churches in the parish. This includes two new Altar Servers, one at St Mary’s and one at St John’s, who have just completed their training. It also includes a number who have been serving for over 5 years. My brother Paul was an Altar Server until he was in his late teens and I always admired his commitment , faithfulness and dedication to his ministry from a young age. I first served when I was 30 years old and at Seminary, which was an essential part of formation. The patron saint of Altar Servers is St Stephen, so let us ask St Stephen to inspire all our Altar servers in the parish, past and present. For all our Altar Servers, we give thanks to the Lord.

On Tuesday, I was invited to give a catechetical talk on the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist to parishioners at St Ambrose Barlow Parish in the Swinton area of Salford. Even though this is something I rarely do, I did actually enjoy doing the required research. However, I am not hankering to do another one any time soon! As you may have noticed, my voice has been quite croaky the last few weeks, so on the evening of the talk, I was very relieved to be feeling the best I have felt for a good month or more. I asked a number of people to pray for me while I was giving this talk and I certainly felt buoyed up by the Holy Spirit as I did so. It seemed to go down well judging by the comments I received afterwards and people seemed to find my somewhat simplified explanations about the Real Presence helpful. After the talk I was invited into the presbytery by the sisters who I know for a catch-up, a hot drink and cheese and crackers. In the course of my research, I have grown in my understanding that in the Mass, Heaven and Earth unite. This is something that will help my appreciation of the Eucharist in the future.

Thank you for reading this reflection and I hope your Lenten journey is
going well.

Every Blessing,

Fr David

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(With thanks to universalis.com (Diocese of Salford calendar))


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