Posted on the 28th Sep 2021 in the category Statements
28 September 2021
The Society's Council of Bishops is grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for acting swiftly to put arrangements in place for the See of Ebbsfleet for episcopal cover during the period in which a permanent appointment will be made.
Cover will come from serving Society bishops in the southern province and also from the Chairman of the Council. It is envisaged that, in general terms, the Bishop of Lewes and the Bishop of Chichester will cover the South West area of the See of Ebbsfleet, the Bishop of Richborough and the Bishop of Fulham will cover the South Midlands area of the See and the Bishop of Wakefield will cover the West Midlands.
The Society bishops are grateful to Catherine Williamson for agreeing to act as a first point of contact for Ebbsfleet parishes when a need for episcopal cover arises. Catherine can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
We suggest that Society priests celebrating Mass in the See of Ebbsfleet should pray for "Bishop Tony and the Council of Bishops" during the Canon of the Mass, should it be their custom to include such prayers. This will reflect the nature of the episcopal cover being provided by a number of Society bishops.
Our prayers remain with the Ebbsfleet parishes in their mission and witness at this challenging time.
We offer The Society prayer for all Ebbsfleet priests and people:
bless the bishops, clergy and people of The Society.
Bind us together in love and faith.
Renew us in service and witness.
And by your Holy Spirit
Guide our future and make plain your purposes.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saint Wilfrid, pray for us.
Saint Hilda, pray for us.
Posted on the 3rd Sep 2021 in the category Statements
Posted on the 5th May 2021 in the category Statements
The Society encourages all of its parishes, and indeed all Christians, to participate in the Thy Kingdom Come initiative which this year runs from Thursday 13 May, Ascension Day, to Sunday 23 May, the feast of Pentecost.
The Ascension of the Lord marks a new moment in the life of the community of Christ’s followers. Jesus returns to the Father in order to send upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and so, from earliest days, Christians have used the days following Ascension Day to wait in prayer for the renewing, reviving gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
This time of expectant waiting echoes the experience of the Apostles who gathered with the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer before the Spirit came upon them.
This period of prayer is often referred to as a ‘novena’, which is an ancient practice of the Church to spend a series of consecutive days or weeks in prayer for a particular theme or intention. In praying this novena, we are uniting ourselves with the ancient tradition of the Church.
In recent years, this period has been given a particular focus through the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative; a global ecumenical movement that invites us to pray for strength in conviction as we live out our faith in our daily lives and as we strive to draw others into a lively relationship with God in Christ and in the fellowship of his Church.
It is very welcome that, unlike this time last year, we are now able to attend church services in person. If you feel able to do so safely, we ask that you pray in church during this special period of Christian witness.
In doing this, we seek to join our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church in looking to place attendance at the Sunday Mass at the heart of our lives in what we hope will soon be a post-pandemic period.
Parishes of The Society running events as part of this initiative are encouraged to use the hashtags #TheSociety and #ThyKingdomCome when promoting them on social media.
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
Posted on the 19th Mar 2021 in the category Statements
Feast of St. Joseph 2021
Tuesday 23 March will mark the first anniversary of the National Lockdown. It will be a day for remembrance and lament for us as Christians as we reflect on the terrible damage that the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought across our nation and our world.
We as Christians will pray for the repose of the souls of over 125,000 people who have died in the UK alone after testing positive for Covid-19, and so many more world-wide, each one a beloved and precious child of God, mourned by family and friends. We offer our devotional video on praying for the dead as a support and a comfort to those who grieve (1).
We will also pray for those who have fallen ill to this disease, especially those with the chronic symptoms of long Covid. We will pray for those who face financial ruin or debt because of the loss of jobs or businesses.
We will pray for deprived urban communities, many served by Society parishes, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and those families who are coping with hunger and destitution. We will pray for the professionals in health, education, social care, local government and other walks of life who have endured such a stressful and challenging year. And we will pray for our churches and for Christians who have felt again and again the desolate pain of being denied access to the sacraments of life.
Christians are often tempted to reach too soon for easy answers to complex problems or contrive shallow ‘good news stories’ out of the gloom. But like Our Lady who simply stayed with her Son on the hill of Calvary, 23 March will be for us a time to stand by the cross and unite ourselves in prayer with all whose lives have been damaged by the pandemic.
There are many who will ask, ‘Where is God in all this?’ But as we live through Passiontide and mark the rites of Holy Week, it is in worship that we find the answers to that question, for we have a God who in Christ unites himself with human suffering and death in order to transform them in the light of His Cross and Resurrection.
The Christ who washed feet is present alongside those medical professionals who tend to the needs of the sick and dying. The Christ who feeds us under the signs of bread and wine locates himself with the hungry and the destitute. The Christ who lays down his life on the cross assumes to himself death in order to destroy it. The Christ who rises gloriously on the third day shows that those who are baptised into him are a new creation, set free from sin and death and all that is at enmity with human flourishing.
Our worship in Holy Week is so much more than a re-telling of a story from the past. In our worship we bring the saving power of Jesus Christ breaking into the present and so bear witness to the truth that the pain and loss of this past year cannot last, for the victory has already been won. So, we are inviting all those who look to our care as bishops not just to pray on 23 March, but to commit themselves with greater dedication than ever to a devout keeping of Holy Week.
If it you are able, please make every effort to join with your fellow Christians in public worship, especially for the Triduum on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. And if you do not feel able to attend in person, unite yourself to the worship of the church as best you can through making use of our online resources.
It is a cause of huge sadness to us as Catholic Bishops that so few of our laypeople will be able to attend the Chrism Masses this year (and indeed that in some cases the rites normally associated with the Chrism Mass will need to wait until the feast of Pentecost this year) but you will be at the centre of our prayers as your bishops, priests and deacons commit their lives afresh to serving you.
St. Paul writes in the First Letter to the Corinthians, ‘…the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ On 23 March we will stand by the cross and pray for all the victims of the pandemic, most especially the departed. But in that instrument of death, we find life as God’s power is revealed. As you encounter the cross this Passiontide, may you also discover afresh the hope of the resurrection and the perfect joy of the new creation.
With our prayers over Holy Week and Eastertide,
(1) This year The Society, together with the Catholic Societies of the Church of England, will offer their annual Requiem Mass, which is generously sponsored by the Guild of All Souls, for those who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Mass will take place at St. Stephen, Gloucester Road at 7pm on Thursday 4 November and will be live streamed. The streaming details will be made available nearer the time on the websites of The Society, the Guild of All Souls, and St. Stephen, Gloucester Road.
Posted on the 18th Dec 2020 in the category Statements
May the light of Christ be with you and your family over this season of Christmas and throughout 2021
This Christmas letter from The Society's Council of Bishops comes with our prayers as we all prepare for the season of Christmas and beyond.
In 2020 humanity has been attacked by an invisible enemy called Covid-19 which all too often is deadly or debilitating. This invisible enemy has changed our day-to-day living in a manner which we would previously have struggled to imagine or foresee. We are unable to do the same things in the same ways.
Despite the gloom and darkness that the world is facing, we are reminded at Christmas that darkness does not have any power over light. Darkness may try to prevent the light from shining, but it never holds back the light enduringly. Ultimately, the light will shine though. God as the creator of the universe is bigger than the Covid-19 health crisis. All of this will pass. All trials do. But until then, let us trust in God; God the Father who makes His Son a daily presence in our lives. Let us hand over our fears to Him so that He can conquer them.
Against this challenging backdrop, The Society's Council of Bishops met earlier this month and will do so again in early February. The conversations we had were, as ever, wide-ranging with a particular focus not only on a full resumption of our sacramental life together but also on mission and how we can best communicate the Catholic faith to our nation.
We hope that some of us will be able to gather for Chrism Masses in, or just before, Holy Week and renew our commitment to the priestly and sacramental life. We shall write again after our February meeting, including our further thoughts on Chrism Masses.
Thank you once again for your faithfulness and dedication in Christ’s service.
This year, working with others, The Society, supported by Forward in Faith, is delighted to make available two resources for Christmas: 'O come let us adore Him' and 'The Wondrous Gift'.