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Pastoral Note regarding participation in Holy Mass
on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
When the pandemic reached Gibraltar, and the Churches were either closed or only open for private prayer, the faithful were dispensed from the obligation of attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation. Now, we thank God that Churches are once again open and there are no special restrictions for those participating in the Mass. It is time to consider going back to normality and giving the Eucharist its rightful place and importance in our life and in the life of the Church.
Therefore, after giving due consideration to the situation in which we find ourselves in Gibraltar regarding the pandemic and being confident that there is very little danger in going to church to participate in the Eucharist, the dispensation from attending Mass on Sundays and Days of Obligation is now no longer necessary and will be withdrawn. All the faithful are encouraged to return to the celebration of Sundays and Days of Obligation by attending Mass, beginning on the Solemnity of Pentecost, which is the Solemnity that celebrates the birth of the Church.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales published a reflection entitled “The Day of the Lord”, which I would like to quote to reflect on the importance of returning back to taking part in the Mass especially on Sundays.
“It is the Eucharist, the celebration of the Mass, that makes the Church; and it is the Church, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, which makes the Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the lifeblood of the Church. It requires our active participation and, to be fully celebrated, our physical presence.
At this moment, then, we need to have in our sights the need to restore to its rightful centrality in our lives the Sunday Mass, encouraging each to take his or her place once again in the assembly of our brothers and sisters. We face the task of seeking to nurture the sense of Sunday as “a weekly gift from God to his people”, and something we cannot do without; to see Sunday as the soul of the week, as giving light and meaning to all the responsibilities we live out each day; to see the Sunday Eucharist as food for the unique mission with which we have been endowed.
In the time to come we can do no better than to rekindle in our hearts, foster and encourage, a yearning for the Real Presence of the Lord and the practice of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, a gift so deeply appreciated in the times of lockdown. We need to begin by fostering this in ourselves. For the Eucharist should be the cause of our deepest joy, our highest manner of offering thanks to God and for seeking his mercy and love. We need to make it the foundation stone of our lives”. (Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, ‘The Day of the Lord’, 22 April 2021).
It is my hope that all the faithful will return to celebrate together the Day of the Lord in Church, participating in the Sacrifice of the Mass and receiving Holy Communion, which is food for the journey we are on in this world.
Given today, the 13th May, 2021, the Solemnity of the Ascension and the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima.
Bishop of Gibraltar
A message for all children as they prepare for their First Holy Communion
a new book by local author Rose Victory
a new book by local author Rose Victory
Visited by an Angel is an everyday, short story to help children understand the meaning of Holy Communion and the love that God has for us all.
An Angel appears to three children and explains the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion to them in a simple and interesting way. It is a great story for kids to read by themselves, or have read to them. It will make them understand that Jesus and their Guardian Angels are always with them.
I hope it will help many children to understand the beauty and joy of being one with Jesus when receiving Our Lord Jesus in Holy Communion.
Following the revised Covid-19 restrictions affecting places of worship, please note these changes, which have been approved by his Lordship the Bishop:
With immediate effect:
- Masks: these will no longer be required, effective as from today. However, they are still mandatory for funerals.
- Sanitization remains available for those entering church.
- Holy Water fonts: for the moment, these are not allowed.
- Sign of Peace: this continues to be suspended.
- Collective response to “the Body of Christ” is no longer required and is to be done individually, in the customary manner.
- Distribution of Holy Communion by Priests and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy communion: they will be required to sanitize prior to distribution and to wear masks throughout.
- Receiving Holy Communion: this remains unchanged. All those who wish to receive on the tongue, should do so at the end of the queue for those receiving on the hand.
- Choirs and congregational singing may now resume.
From Friday 16th April:
- Social distancing: will no longer be required as from then.
- Newsletters and other printed material will be permitted.
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation remains for the moment in force until there is confidence that it is safe enough to lift it. However, every effort to honour our sacred obligation, when possible, should still be adhered to.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Please remain safe.
Charismatic “NEW LIFE” Prayer group
resumes their meetings
at St. Theresa’s Church today
as from 8:30 pm
beginning with a time of ‘prayer and praise’.
Please spread the word around!
From the office of the Bishop of Gibraltar, Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned.
Appointment of Apostolic Nuncio to Togo
Further to the announcement of 5th February that Pope Francis had appointed Monsignor Mark Miles as Apostolic Nuncio to Benin, the Holy Father has today appointed Archbishop-elect Miles also as Apostolic Nuncio to the Togolese Republic.
Togo is a country immediately adjacent to the west of the Republic of Benin with a population of approximately 8 million, of which, 28% are Catholic.
The Diocese is able to confirm that the Episcopal Ordination will take place in Gibraltar on Sunday, 25th April 2021.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State for the Holy See, will be the principal Consecrator.
Details of the Ordination ceremony will be made available as soon as arrangements have been finalised.
REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS
Dear Beloved in Christ,
For practically a whole year, the words most used have been pandemic, self-isolation, Covid-19, Coronavirus and unfortunately death due to Covid-19. All these terms have become familiar to us, and they are all connected to the threat to life that the virus going round all over the world poses. Due to this pandemic, all of us have lost persons we loved or were close to.
Last year the public celebration of Easter was not possible, and we don’t know as yet how the celebration of the Easter Triduum this year will be celebrated due to the uncertainties that the pandemic raises.
During this Lent, whatever the situation the pandemic confronts us with, certain truths about Lent are good to remember and put into practice. The elements that make Lent relevant are prayer, conversion, sacrifice and charity which includes almsgiving. The restrictions that we have to follow may even be a help to reflect more about what is really important in our life and give more attention to these realities. This Lent gives us the opportunity of reflecting about our priorities in life, and whether these priorities are in the order they should be.
When Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit after his baptism in the Jordan into the wilderness, he was in self-isolation. There he had time, forty days, to prepare himself for his public ministry and to realise what his mission was really about. He was faced with the challenges or temptations that we all face due to our fallen nature. He did battle with the devil, and he overcame the temptations regarding self-indulgence, self-glory and seeking power. He was able to overcome these temptations because he spent his time in the desert praying and fasting. After forty days in the desert, he went out to start his public ministry and his first proclamation was “The hour has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News” (Mk 1, 15).
The Lord commissioned the Church to continue to spread this original message. The call to repentance and conversion is always relevant and urgent. The command to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News is the treasure that is entrusted to the Church (cf. Mk 16, 15). What is the good news? The Good News is Christ himself, his presence in the Church. “I am with you always, till the end of the age” (Mt. 28, 20). This presence is very actual in the sacrifice of the Mass, which actualises the salvation and redemption that were achieved by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his overpowering of death by his Resurrection.
Jesus was not always active amongst the crowds who were hungry for his words and his miracles. He found time to be alone with his Father in intimate prayer. During Lent, in a special way, we are reminded about the importance of personal prayer, which is at the heart of every Christian’s life. We are urged to find ways to be alone with the Father. The Season of Lent has always been a call to spend time with the Father in personal prayer.
Although our faith tells us that God is love, that He is always anxious to receive us back into his arms when we make up our mind to return to him, as we learn in the parable of the prodigal son, it is always possible that we will turn our back to God. We are unfortunately often influenced by a society which looks on life and on the world as all that we have to enjoy now. Many seek to experience heaven here and now, and the new sainthood is achieving celebrity and experiencing as much pleasure as we can in the present.
Christ took upon himself the weight of all our sins, and through his passion and sacrificial death he, so to speak, paid for all our sins. This is what we mean by redemption. But sin did not end with our redemption, and it is still very much alive around us, and this reality will continue till the end of time. But Christ never turned his back on the sinner. He will never turn his back to us, however much we may feel in despair or burdened with guilt.
The call to repentance is also a call to conversion. It is not sufficient to say I am sorry, but one has to change direction. The danger is that we may consider ourselves as not in need of any conversion because, although we realise we have faults, we don’t consider them as serious enough as to make any effort to overcome such defects or failures.
When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, he answered that the first and greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, and that the second most important commandment was to love one’s neighbour as oneself (cf. Mt 22, 36-40). In its essence, love means willing what is good for the other and then to act on that desire. Real love is to escape from the natural inclination to be egoists, and to embrace the good of the other for the sake of the other.
In previous Lents we suggested that any charitable donations may go to Aid to the Church in Need. You are obviously free to choose which charity you would like to make your contributions to this Lent as a consequence of your self-denial, but I would like to encourage you to remember to include Aid to the Church in Need also this year. This Charity is dedicated to help Christians who are suffering persecution and who are also caught up in countries where there are conflicts which make life extremely difficult.
May Mary, the Mother of our Saviour and our mother, walk closely with each of us this Lent, to bring us and those we pray for safe into celebrating in faith the Resurrection.
With my good wishes and prayers,
Bishop of Gibraltar
The Chief Minister has announced this afternoon that as from Saturday 20th February, public worship may be resumed, with the same Public Health directives as just before lockdown, mainly concerning social distancing and sanitisation hygiene. His Lordship the Bishop has therefore instructed the parishes to reopen for public worship on that day.
Unfortunately, this means that public liturgies will resume after Ash Wednesday and so, this year we will not be able to administer the ashes in our customary way. Instead, we may substitute the placing of blessed ashes on our heads, with a time for prayer and contemplation of what Lent means and of the significance this Penitential time has for us as Christians. The Stations of the Cross, or reading and meditating on a passage from Sacred Scriptures which is used at Mass on Ash Wednesday, are particularly appropriate.
Ash Wednesday remains a day of fasting and abstinence for those who are bound by ecclesiastical law and who are able to do so without harm to their health, especially during this time when it is important to keep a good diet that will help us battle against Covid and seasonal viruses.
The dispensation from the observance of the Sunday precept and of Holy Days of Obligation remains in force until we can return fully to normal.
Please be careful to observe social distancing in church, particularly in weekends when the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a church might inadvertently be exceeded. Your cooperation will be sincerely appreciated, especially if you find on arrival that you should not enter a church because there is no more safe room available.
The previous restrictions regarding funerals, baptisms, weddings and confessions continue to be in force for as long as the Public Authorities’ directives continue to hold.