Evelyn Underhill, the Catholic writer once said, “A lot of the road to heaven has to be taken at thirty miles an hour.” Sometimes we would like life to move much quicker and things to happen earlier than they do.
Since the third week of March, when Covid19 invaded our world and the life of lockdown and social distancing became the norm, many of you must have been feeling incredibly frustrated with the restrictions. A large part of that frustration has been the closure of our churches. I’m certain many of you never envisaged the closure lasting for twelve weeks. So, thank you and well done for your patience and endurance.
As you know by now, we have been given the green light to open our churches for private prayer. I know you will be delighted about this as indeed I am. Let me explain what this entails at St Edmund’s.
The church will be open Monday to Friday, 10.30 – 12.00 in the morning and 4.00 to 6.00 in the evening. On Saturday 11.00 am to 2.00 pm.
When you arrive at the church you will see that the entrance and exit points are the main church doors at the front. The side door will be kept as an entrance and exit for people with mobility problems. You will be asked to form a queue outside the main doors. To maintain safe distancing the number allowed into the church at any one time is restricted to thirty.
You will be invited into the church by a volunteer steward. Please use the hand sanitizer as you enter. You will then be shown to a seat before the Blessed Sacrament. Can I say at this point that these will be single chairs not the benches which you are accustomed to. The pews have been pushed to the back and the sides of the church to create more space and are cordoned off.
Each ‘intake of people’ will be able to spend twenty minutes in private prayer before they are asked to leave to make way for the next people. When you are in the church please adhere to the following:
Stay in the seat provided for you and do not wander round the church. The seating will be arranged at a distance of two metres.
You are requested to maintain silence throughout your stay. This means spoken prayers, communal rosary and gatherings of any kind are not permitted.
Unfortunately, there cannot be any lighting of votive lights.
Facemasks may be worn if you wish but will not be imposed.
Anyone under the age of sixteen will need to be accompanied by an adult and children are welcome of course but can I please ask parents to stop their children touching anything in the church.
We have been instructed to keep the toilet closed.
I apologise if this all sounds rather daunting and officious but it is important and necessary that we have these regulations in place and that we stick to them for everyone’s wellbeing, health and safety.
Whenever the church is open a team of stewards will be present to guide you and do their best to answer any questions you may have. A member of the clergy team will also be present should you require them but sadly the priests are not able at this time to hear confessions.
God bless you all. Fr Steve