Dear Friends,

It is beginning to feel, I hope, that we are slowly easing ourselves out of this current Covid 19 pandemic crisis. Provided of course, that no other sleekit variant arises! You will notice on pages 8 and 9 that we are advertisingtimes of meditation and a Lent group to be hosted in Church. The Lent material is organised on Ignatian lines and the material is very good, stimulatingand thought provoking and I commend it to you.

These meetings will follow the existing strict Covid preventative rules and observations that we have become accustomed to. I keep on saying that it is probably safer to come to church than to go out shopping!

Please do take on board that we are trying to ‘kick start’ the community of the church back into life.Everything in our community, in our society and in our country has been greatly affected by the pandemic and it is difficult to see how things may pan out in the future.However, we are people of faith and we must look on the bright side.

I noticed this morning after Parish Mass on Epiphany III that the small flower pot on the church steps is stirring into life and that snowdrops will be out for Candlemas. They are the traditional floral symbol for that Festivaland remind us of the stirrings of new life in nature towards the end of winter. To quote Shakespeare this has beena ‘winter of discontent’, a miserable time indeed! Snowdrops are a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s purity and innocence.  I have scheduled a lunchtime mass on Candlemas to allow those of you who are a wee bit reticent to come out in the evening to be able to attend mass on that day.

Perusing the book ‘A Gospel of Wild Flowers’ by Anthony Foottit I discovered the following about snowdrops which is an excellent commentary on the state of our contemporary world….Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis….

“Snowdrops are the first sign- a promise- that spring is on its way. Their pure white flowers and green leaves signal a new beginning. Purification sounds better than detoxification, but they mean the same thing.Spiritualpurification is by way of repentance- of being sorry and receiving forgiveness. Hand in hand with the renewal of ourselves is the task of cleansing society, by addressing and countering the poverty, unemployment and degradation, which so often underlies trouble and crime.Spring-cleaning is an important household chore– a time to dispose of clutter and rubbish, although it is challenging to realise that, ‘there is no place called Away into which things can finally be thrown’ (Claire Foster).As much as possible should be recycled, because we are not only polluting this precious world with our rubbish, but transforming its climate by our carbon emissions. Cleanliness, they say, is next to godliness.

Galanthophiles recognise many different varieties of snowdrops including one named after a country clergyman, Henry Harpur-Crewe, Rector of Drayton Beauchamp in Buckinghamshire. Snowdrops also have the charming name of Candlemas bells, appearing as they do for Candlemas-the Feast of the Presentation of the infant Christin the temple. Candlemas is also called the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary- not that Mary in her virginity needed any purifying, but she and Joseph were following the custom of the time in taking their baby to the temple with an offering of two doves. Purification, like the old English custom of churching, had the good purpose of giving thanks for the miracle of new birth. Two old pensioners, Simeon and Anna, welcomed Mary and Joseph and their baby into the temple. Understanding between the very old and the very young is a great joy. When families are no longer naturally extensive networks, old friends and relations become even more important.

The young do not often realise how much they owe to the old, who maintain the faith and indeed church buildings-beacons of light in a dark world. Christians believe that God created this beautiful world, and that his Son Jesus Christ is the first born of all creation. The snowdrops signal that afresh start can be made, and that it is possible to purify the evil and dross that stain and smudge so many lives and places. God challenges his people to worship and work together to bring all ages into the way of purity, light and peace.”

Have a reflective and holy Lent,


As Aye,

Fr Emsley