Dear friends,

A lot has changed since our last letter. Whilst there is still some freedom of movement, it is likely that we are heading towards a total lockdown as has been seen in other countries. I think we owe it to our families and friends and others we have contact with that we follow the guidelines that are given to us by civil and Church authorities. I’m sure all of us would want to prevent making another person sick, even unknowingly. It’s not bad that we’re being asked to make sacrifices during Lent, and I think many would agree that the sacrifices imposed on us are usually more meritorious than the sacrifices we choose for ourselves.

Please know that the Oratory community is united with all of you as we go through this present trial. And whilst we cannot gather in our usual ways, we are still doing many of our usual things. At this time, the Fathers generally offer their daily Masses at 8:30am, 9:00am and 9:30am. Where we can we will continue to publish the Mass intentions in the parish newsletter, which itself will continue to be published and posted online. We are ringing the Angelus on the church bell at noon and 6:00pm so you might like to pray with us at these times. Also know that the Oratory community prays together each evening between 6:00 and 6:30pm, and we are praying for all our parishioners, benefactors, relatives and friends.

As much as we’re able, the Fathers and Brothers are available to speak with people on the phone. If you do need to see someone face-to-face we ask that you phone the Oratory house first (3392 9247) to ensure that someone is available. We are presently getting together some of the equipment necessary to be able to live-stream some things so that you don’t forget what we look and sound like! We’ll let you know more about this as it progresses. You might want to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and of course you can keep an eye on our Facebook page. We’ll try to put more things on our website, too, for those not on social media, and also send out more regular email updates (subscribe here).

One blessing that will surely come of this current time is that those who live with others may well find new ways of being together that will last long after this pandemic. This is a wonderful moment for families and households to pray together. If you don’t already have one, you might consider setting up an altar or prayer corner in an appropriate spot, as a focus for prayer, adorned with holy pictures and images. You might decide to pray the rosary together after dinner each evening. Now that some fathers in particular might be home more than they usually are, this is a great time for them to exercise spiritual leadership in their families. What a gift this would be to your children. Because of this imposed isolation, we all might become a bit better about thinking about those who are on their own, and doing what we can to support and help them. Above all, we must pray for each other, that each of us will have the graces we need to continue trusting in the Lord and seeking His will before all else. We know that being kept at home will be more distressing for some than for others, and we need to pray particularly for those for whom this is a heavy cross.

On today’s feast of the Annunciation we celebrate the beginning of our redemption, and we ponder the great mystery of God becoming man. Our prayer, as said in the Mass, is that we may come to share the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity. As Pope Saint Leo the Great says in one of the readings of today’s liturgy: the invisible God becomes visible for us; the God who is beyond our grasp chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time, be began to exist at a moment in time, and took the nature of a servant.

This feast reminds us of the love and mercy of God, who came amongst us to lead mankind back to Him, and so that we would know the way that leads to our Father’s home. Even in this time when we are deprived of some of the things that sustain us on our earthly pilgrimage, may we still know the closeness of God to us. God is not limited even to the things that He has established for our sanctification. May we therefore turn to Him with faith and trust, and look forward to when this present trial is over. After this Lent of suffering and trial, may we look forward to the promise of the resurrection. Even in the midst of sickness and death, we know that Christ lives and is King, and His Kingdom will last forever.

Father Adrian Sharp