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The Rector Writes...

Philip Whitmore

“On the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory, to show … that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.” On this second Sunday of Lent, the preface, as so often, holds the key to the mystery we are celebrating. The three closest disciples, including our own Saint James, were given a glimpse of the glory that the only-begotten Son had with the Father before the world came into being. That glimpse was as much as they could take in, but it helped them to make sense of the horrors of the Passion when it came. It pointed ahead to the glory that awaited them on Easter Sunday.

 

Often when we’re going through a desert experience, a grim period in our lives, it helps to have a glimpse of something wonderful in store, to give us hope and perseverance. It can feel rather like that at this early stage of Lent. This Sunday’s Gospel assures us that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That said, Lent isn’t meant to be a grim experience for us. One of the weekday Lenten prefaces tells us that the “faithful await the sacred paschal feasts with the joy of minds made pure”. It’s a stripping away of dead wood, leaving us leaner and readier for the glorious Paschal season to come.

 

Almsgiving is one of the pillars of this Lenten season, along with fasting and prayer. This weekend we have a good opportunity for almsgiving, as a collection is taken for CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. Do have a look at Elizabeth Carey’s article on the parish website. Thanks to CAFOD, we have a real opportunity to come to the aid of our poorer brothers and sisters in the developing world. There’s also the Cardinal’s Lenten Appeal, which will go to help some key projects, both at home and abroad. Marriage and family life, Youth and evangelisation, the Education Service and Caritas Westminster are the principal causes supported by this collection. The wall safe beside St Joseph’s Altar in the church is one place where donations to this Appeal can be made. The poster in the porch gives further details, including the relevant QR code.

 

Our own parish is preparing for some costly projects, and we will need to ask our generous parishioners for some extra help as the bills start to arrive. I have spoken before about the organ, the magnificent instrument that contributes so much to our liturgy, in need now of some thorough cleaning. The garden on the George Street side of the church could be a more attractive space, and we hope to make it so, perhaps even enticing our parishioners to gather out there during the summer months. The church heating is in need of significant attention, as was only too evident last winter - happily less so in the current milder conditions. And finally the Rectory would benefit from some refurbishment, to make it more hospitable to guests and to favour a common life among the residents.

 

All these projects will cost significant amounts of money, and while the parish’s bank balance is healthy, it is unlikely to be sufficient to support all of this work. One of the most painless ways of increasing parish revenue is for our donors to apply Gift Aid to their contributions. Many of you already do, but those who do not, if they are UK taxpayers, might like to consider completing a Gift Aid form, so that the parish can reclaim from the government the tax that has been paid on the sum donated. Indeed there is no harm in completing a further Gift Aid declaration if it’s some years since you did so. It will mean that cash donated in the white envelopes distributed around the church can be Gift Aided (as long as you write your name on the envelope!), and there is also the possibility of contactless or online giving.

 

At the back of the church, you can find the white envelopes as well as the parish’s Gift Aid form, “Planned Giving”. Scanning the QR code that you’ll find on the present newsletter will give you a further opportunity to make tax efficient gifts to the parish. We can assure you that all such gifts are gratefully received:  we are only too conscious of the generosity of our parishioners, without which it would be hard to make ends meet.

 

Soon it will be March, and the first day of March is the feast of Saint David, patron saint of Wales. So congratulations to our Welsh parishioners, including our Director of Music, and congratulations to any Davids among you. It will also be the first Friday of the month, so there will be exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the afternoon between Masses. It is heartening to see the large numbers coming to pray during this extended period of Exposition. Do take the opportunity to sign the sheet at the back of the church if you can commit to be present for a part of that time, so that the Sacrament need never be left unattended.

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