News this week

Please do pray for the Synod, which we begin to work on this month and continues until 2023... Pope Francis' Homily on the launch of the synodal process is here....

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name. With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it. We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder. Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions. Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right. All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.

First Sunday of Advent November 28th 09:30

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This system does not yet allow you to set up an account for the Gift Aid system, but is the same payment system as the terminals in church ("tap and go" terminals). You will soon be able to register here for gift aid giving, and then your contributions made on the terminals will also be gift aided.

Changes in how Church operates.

Guidance for Parishioners

In line with the recent announcements regarding the easing of restrictions, St Gregory’s will adopt the following from Sunday 18th July:

The sanitizing stations will remain in situ for your use at the South Porch entrance and the West Doors (rear exit).

Although not obligatory, it is recommended that the wearing of face masks continue and parishioners should endeavor to position themselves 1 meter apart, wherever possible, from those with whom they are not in a bubble or household.

Parishioners wishing to receive Holy Communion can now revert to forming 2 lines (starting from the front pews). Those who wish to receive “on the tongue” with in tincture are to present themselves to the principal celebrant, who will have a ciborium that has an integrated chalice. The sacrament of confession will no longer be “open” but will revert to the confessionals. Penitents are requested to keep the door open on the confessional stall they occupy.

 

Monday in Week of Advent 1 (29th November): Isaiah 2.1-5; Psalm 121; Matthew 8.5-11

Most of our first readings at Advent masses are drawn from the book of Isaiah. But ‘Isaiah’ as we find the book in our Bibles is the work of at least two prophets. The first ‘Isaiah’ tells us that he prophesied in the south (King David’s united kingdom of all the tribes of Israel, centred on Jerusalem [cf Psalm 121.4], had fissured during the reign of David’s grandson Rehoboam into a northern kingdom of Israel and a southern kingdom of Judah) during the reigns of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, which we can date as 783 to 686 Before Christ. (Isaiah wasn’t active as a prophet through the whole century of these four reigns, but his prophetic career comprised about 64 years, a lengthy public career for anyone.) In Chapter 45 of ‘Isaiah’, however, we find a reference to Cyrus, King of Persia, who reigned from about 600 to 530 BC. Clearly these last chapters cannot have come from the same hand as the first. (It is as if reading the reminiscences of someone who said he had lived in the time of King George I, George II and George III and we suddenly came across a reference to, say, Vladimir Putin. We would have to conclude that writings of two different eras had been bound together, whether intentionally or haphazardly.)

Uzziah’s reign was a time of unexampled prosperity for Jerusalem. He achieved extraordinary military successes and built prodigiously. His reign ended tragically, however, when in an act of hubris he entered the holiest part of the Temple and burnt incense. He was stricken with leprosy, and was confined to his own quarters for the last 11 years of his life. [II Chronicles 26.1-23]

O House of Jacob’, Isaiah invites, ‘come, let us walk in the light of the lord’. He prophesies a restoration of glory for a reinvigorated nation. The restoration would come, but not exactly in the way Isaiah imagined it. The prayer for peace for Jerusalem, the city of peace (Uru-salem), is a prayer still relevant to our own day.

St Andrew the Apostle (30th November): Romans 10.9-18; Psalm 18; Matthew 4.18-22

Andrew’s singular accomplishment was introducing his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus. [John 1.40-42] But Simon was also one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, at times part of the ‘inner circle’ [Mark 13.3]. He is traditionally called the Protokletos (‘first-called’) and as such it is apt that his feast day marks the beginning of a new church year.

There is little that can be said with certainty about St Andrew’s life after Jesus’ ascension. Traditionally he is credited as the founder of the See of Byzantium (re-named Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine; today Istanbul) and in the mass as it was celebrated prior to 1970 the Pater Noster is concluded with prayers to Peter and Paul, the patriarchs of Rome, and to Andrew, patriarch of the East. At this crucial moment of the Mass, we are invited to pray most especially for peace betwixt the severed halves of the holy Church.

Andrew is traditionally believed to have been crucified on an X-shaped cross (saltire). Part of his relics are said to have been brought to Edinburgh in the 4th Century by St Rule, a monk of Patras, who had been admonished by an angel to take them ‘to the ends of the earth’ for safekeeping.

St Alexander Briant (1st December): Isaiah 25.6-10; Psalm 22; Matthew 15.29-37

Born in Somerset and educated at Oxford, Alexander Briant (1556-81) entered the English College at Douai in 1577. After ordination he returned to Somerset and in his ministry he reconciled many to the church. He was taken prisoner in London in 1579, was barbarously tortured until he was educated alongside St Edmund Campion and St Ralph Sherwin. He was the last of the three to die and his pains were exacerbated by the hangman’s negligence.

Thursday in Week of Advent 1 (2nd December): Isaiah 26.1-6; Psalm 117; Matthew 7.21,24-27

Isaiah records that he was called to prophetic ministry ‘in the year of King Uzziah’s death’ [6.1], that is, 740 BC. Quite likely he had already been in the public eye for some years prior to this memorable experience of the presence and power of the lord in which he confesses his ‘wretched state’, for, he says, ‘I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.’ [6.5] Leprosy, King Uzziah’s medical complaint, is for Biblical authors first and foremost a disease of uncleanness. [cf Mark 1.40-45] Isaiah’s indictment joins the whole of the nation to the consequences of the sin of their king. [cf Leviticus 13.45-46] All of them are compelled, as it were, to live apart.

This is the effect of sin. We all willy-nilly live in separation from God. [Genesis 3.23-24] As in every such situation only God, the aggrieved party, can heal the breach. Only one who can stride across the chasm between heaven and earth can join the severed halves. [Wisdom 18.16] God sees our sin and realises its magnitude and then from the depths of his heart declares ‘I mean to deliver them.’ [Exodus 2.23-25; 3.8]

Isaiah encourages the desolate people—of which he know himself to be a part—to ‘Trust in the lord for ever.’ It is a good admonition for us to take to heart ourselves. His promise is that the nation will be sturdy and steady to the extent that she puts her trust in God alone. That trust is the cure for all our uncleanness, all our sense of separation from our hearts’ true centredness. ‘Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to our help with mighty strength, that what our sins impede the grace of your mercy may hasten.’

St Francis Xavier (3rd December): Isaiah 29.17-24; Psalm 26; Matthew 9.27-31

Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (1506-52) was born in the royal castle of Javier (‘Xavier’ in old Spanish) in the Kingdom of Navarre (modern-day Spain) of prosperous, well-educated parents. After nine years study in the University of Paris Francis in 1534 became one of the original seven of the Society of Jesus (better known as the Jesuits) who devoted themselves to poverty, obedience, chastity and obedience to the Pope. They also vowed to go to the Holy Land to convert infidels, a vow that was to prove impossible. Francis was ordained in 1537; in 1540 King John of Portugal, at the Pope’s suggestion, recruited two of the Jesuits to go to spread the Christian gospel in his newly-acquired lands in India. They departed Lisbon on Francis’ 35th birthday, 7th April 1541 and travelled for 13 months, reaching Goa in May 1542.

St Francis was to spend the remainder of his life in missionary endeavours in Asia. He baptised enormous numbers in India and Ceylon during 3 years of ministry there; then he proceeded to Malacca, to the Maluku Island and to Japan. He died of a fever on a boat at Shangchuan, China, awaiting passage to the mainland. He was canonised in 1622 along with St Ignatius Loyola. Pope Pius XI proclaimed him the Patron of Christian Missions.

St Osmund, Bishop (4th December): Isaiah 30.19-21,23-26; Psalm 146; Matthew 9.35—10.1,6-8

Osmund, a native of Normandy, accompanied William the Conqueror to England and was named Chancellor of the realm about 1070. He became Bishop of Salisbury in 1078 where he consecrated the cathedral and established a Chapter with its own constitution which became a model for other English cathedrals. His canons were noted for their musical skills and their zeal for learning. Osmund was a skilled liturgist and was instrumental in developing the Sarum rite, the liturgy of the Catholic Church in England prior to the Reformation. He loved and cared for the poor and was noted as a humble pastor, severe with penitents but equally severe with himself. He died in the night of 3rd December 1099 and was buried in the Cathedral at Old Sarum; in 1226 his remains were translated to the new Salisbury Cathedral. He was canonised in 1456.

Risk Assessment Document for Public Mass in St Gregory the Great. v12