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Today is the Second Sunday of Lent already! I hope that the Lenten season has started well for everyone and that we are all moving forward, with God’s help, through this time of grace and mercy. Today at Mass we hear the Gospel about the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. The Father declares about Jesus, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved.’ These words remind us of the similar declaration at Jesus’s baptism. Both occasions reveal to us that this Jesus of Nazareth is also the Christ of God, the Messiah, who has been anointed to offer the sacrifice of his own life on the cross. The glory of the transfiguration also points towards the coming glory of the resurrection. We are invited to make this journey with the Christ – a journey that leads both to Good Friday and to the victory of Christ’s triumph over sin and death at Easter. This weekend at church there will be a collection for CAFOD, following the Lent Fast Day that took place on Friday.

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Thank you to everyone for your cooperation and prayers on Ash Wednesday. Many people were able to come to receive their ashes as an outward sign of interior conversion. If you weren't able to receive the ashes, please remember that the same movement of the heart towards the Lord is entirely possible and is what really counts. We also send our prayers and best wishes to all the families who have been on half-term this week - we hope you have had some respite from the online routine and enjoyed some good time with each other. We pray, most of all, for God's blessing on each person, family and household throughout the parish and beyond.

On Wednesday morning we had a lovely Mass, celebrated online, for the children at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School to mark their special feast. Children, families and staff watched from home and joined in the prayers and hymns. There were also a small number of children and staff in school who were able to join in from the classrooms. Thank you to Mrs Hood, Mrs Payne and Mrs Hutton for helping with the celebration, and thank you to all the families who joined in online and in prayer. Thursday evening we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes with a special Mass broadcast from church. It wasn't the same as last year but was nevertheless a lovely opportunity to be united in prayer and mark our patronal feast. Let us pray for the continued protection and prayers of the Immaculate Virgin of Lourdes, and her special closeness to all who are sick and their carers.

This coming Thursday is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, patroness of our parish, church and primary school.  11th February marks the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to St Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858.  We send you all our best wishes for this important feast. Today is the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Already the meaning and message of Lent is reaching out to us, calling us to prepare for the great journey of renewal. There is some further information below about the parish feast day and the start of Lent.  Best wishes and every blessing to you all for the coming week.

Tuesday is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the final end of the celebration of the Christmas mysteries in the liturgy. This feast is also known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Candlemas Day. The feast is a special day of prayer for everyone in consecrated and religious life. In the mystery of the Word-Made-Flesh, God's light has unexpectedly entered our darkness and illumined the whole of time and history. God's light of revelation also illumines our own lives and struggles. We pray at this time especially for the light of heaven to enlighten our own perspective on the current situation, confident that God really is: God-with-us.

Today is the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, which has been designated by Pope Francis as a special day to reflect of the Word of God. In these days after Christmas and Epiphany we are continually invited through the liturgy to reflect on the mystery of Christ, the Word-made-Flesh, who has lived among us. Pope John Paul II, at the start of his pontificate, implored humanity, 'to let Christ speak to man'. Christ, who is God's living Word among us, speaks to us and reveals to us his Father. His words of the Gospel, which are always new and life-giving, continue to form us and show us the way of life. Perhaps today there may be an opportunity for each one of us to reflect on these truths and spend some time praying with the readings we have heard at Mass.

150 years ago, St Joseph was declared Patron of the Universal Church by Bl. Pope Pius IX. To mark this anniversary, Pope Francis has declared 2021 to be a special 'Year of St Joseph'. As we know, Joseph was the guardian and protector of the Holy Family, just as now he has a special care for the family of God which is the Church. Perhaps during these months we can renew our devotion to St Joseph as we seek his heavenly protection at this difficult time. St Joseph: pray for us!

Today is the Feast of the Lord's Baptism. This event at the River Jordan is a kind of Epiphany when there was a revelation of God's love at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The voice of Father is heard and the Spirit is seen when Jesus is anointed as the Christ of God. God is love and his overwhelming love for each of us is revealed in the mystery of Christ, the Word-made-flesh and the Saviour of the world.

A big thank you to all who made Christmas go smoothly and successfully here at Our Lady of Lourdes—especially those who manned the carpark and church doors, and to those who cleaned and decorated the church and altar. Special thanks to the children in Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School who made the decorations for the Christmas tree—it looks fantastic! Thank you for the many kind messages, cards and gifts that we have received. We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We’re exhausted but enjoyed being with you either in person or in prayer over the Christmas liturgies. God bless you all and have a happy New Year.
Fr David, Fr Andrew, Fr Johnson, Deacon Ian, and the parish office team.

Today is the Fourth Sunday in our Advent journey. Since 17th December we entered the inner heart of the Advent season, which really prepares us to celebrate the great feast of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.  This week was also the end of term for children and staff in our schools. We send them all our thanks and best wishes after a very challenging school term, and every blessing for the Christmas holidays.

Today is Gaudete Sunday—a day of rejoicing and gladness in the heart of the Advent journey. Today we light the third, rose-coloured candle on the Advent wreath.