Coming to Mass in a Catholic Church – helpful guidelines

CHRIST’S LIVING PRESENCE IN THE CHURCH BUILDING  is what makes this sacred space different from anywhere else on earth!  Our current age sees everything as an object of human production, and human relationships made effective by conversation.  But praying to God is totally different because God makes Himself known to me.  Appreciating the Mass as the activity of Christ, our prayer inserts us into its action and thereby into the Body of Christ (Lumen Gentium, Vat 2) thus building up our relationship both with Him and with one another.
OUR PARISH FAMILY meets in the Church which, as a consecrated building, is set aside exclusively for the worship of Almighty God     (Rite of Dedication of a Church).  While the Church is made up of people, living stones, the place where we worship is important.  We believe that the Lord is present in every Catholic Church in the Blessed Sacrament.
Our lives today tend to be stressful and noisy. The busy-ness of running a home, commuting to work and bringing up children means that we should value our Church building as a unique resource – providing        a sacred space where individuals find opportunity to be with the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.  Every Parishioner or Visitor to our Church should be able to experience it as an oasis of peace – which depends on each one of us ensuring prayerful silence and stillness.
Jesus loved the Temple in Jerusalem:  He became visibly distressed when He saw its peace being upset (Matthew 21: 10-17) and He said those famous words: My house shall be called a house of prayer.  We need  to do all we can to respect our Parish Church as “a house of prayer”.
WHEN YOU COME INTO CHURCH  try to be as quiet as you can.  Genuflect when you enter, and whenever you pass the tabernacle (in the centre of the Church).  Restrict any conversation to outside the Church itself (in the Pastoral Centre and its foyer, or the narthex / porch – though sound often carries from there into the Church).  Greet one another with a nod and a smile, be warm and welcoming, but resist the urge to chat in Church, especially before (and after) Mass!  Give those around you the chance to be still.  It may be the only opportunity in the week for them, and for you, to spend quality time with God.
OUR CAR PARK  is at the east end of the Church (access from Kingston Road, opposite the Public Library).  The rear Courtyard is reserved exclusively for Presbytery residents, house guests and deliveries.  Surplus car parking is best alongside Holy Cross School in Sandal Road, leaving Montem Road for our neighbouring residents. Please park sensibly and considerately, never blocking driveways.
If you need to speak to the Priest, please do so after Mass – he, too, needs to be recollected and spiritually ready, and he will not be able to give you the time you deserve beforehand.  Remember that the Sacristy is part of the Church and not a meeting room or parish office!
Ringing of mobile phones is an occasional cause of irritation.  If you bring one please make sure that it is turned off (or switched to silent or vibrate mode) before entering the Church.  And aim to arrive in good time, so that you a have the chance to settle yourself and your family well before Mass begins, and to make a prayerful preparation for Mass.
TOILETS  can be used before or after Mass, but during Mass please only use them if absolutely necessary.  In particular, no one should be going to the toilet between the Offertory and the end of Mass (while we are kneeling in worship).  Nor should toilets be used (quite obviously) immediately after receiving Holy Communion!  Kneel in your pew and adore Jesus who has just made His home in you in Holy Communion.  The minutes after we receive Holy Communion are the most sacred moments of our life on earth – to be treasured and prayed.
Food or drink should not be consumed anywhere in the Church.  Children should be fed before or after Mass, never during the Sacred Liturgy.  All Communicants (except the elderly or seriously sick) are bound to fast for at least one hour from all food and drink (except water and medicines of genuine need) before receiving Communion.
We should not receive Communion if we are conscious of being in a state of grave sin, without first receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation).  This could include deliberately missing Sunday Mass, being in a ‘second marriage’ (or similar relationship) without first having had a former marriage annulled by the Church.  Speak to a Priest in confidence if you have any uncertainty.
OUR CHILDREN are our future and we love them.  We are very happy that they come to worship God.  Jesus famously said: “Let the little children come to me: do not stop them for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10: 13-16).  Please help your children understand that when they come to Church, they are entering the House of God – somewhere entirely different from anywhere else on earth!
Encourage children to be as quiet and reverent as possible.  Only soft toys ought to be brought into Church (not hard ones which can be banged and are noisy!)  If a child needs to bring a book, it should obviously be a religious one (so that it contributes, not detracts from, focus upon the things of God), but it’s best if each child has his or her own age-related Missal (Mass book) to help them participate in the Mass and respond with everyone else.  Children are best seated at the front (or the front side benches) where their attention can be drawn to the candles, colours, incense, movement in the sanctuary and action at the altar, and thus be drawn into the sacred action of the Mass.
We take child protection issues very seriously, and need to observe health and safety, fire and other regulations.  Please do not let small children run in the aisles, climb on the benches, light candles unsupervised, or otherwise cause danger or unnecessary distraction.
If a child is crying or fractious take them briefly into the porch or the Quiet Room at the back of Church until they are calmed, and where you can still follow Mass through the speakers.  The Quiet Room should only be occupied very briefly, so that others have opportunity at need.  A box of books is there, and also at the back of the Church, which might help to settle them.  You can then return with them when they are calmer.  Pushchairs should be stored away from fire exits and doors.
WHEN MASS IS ENDED  take a copy of the Sunday Bulletin home with you (one per family) for reference during the week.  Please leave everything tidy, ready for the next Mass, taking home paper tissues etc, and returning hymn-books and Mass sheets to the back of the Church.
Remember that there are people who want to remain in prayer, so please respect their wish by leaving the Church as quietly as possible.
THE MASS  is the source and summit of the Christian life, and our receiving Holy Communion should be the highlight of our week.        It is traditional to genuflect (or at least make a profound bow, not a nod) before receiving Holy Communion.  If you are carrying anything (child, walking stick etc) please do not attempt to received Communion in the hand (nor if wearing gloves).  Priests have a responsibility to ensure the avoidance of sacrilege, danger or disrespect to the Sacred Host.
It is the right of every Catholic to choose to receive Holy Communion kneeling or standing, on the tongue or in the hand, as recently reminded by the Archbishop of Westminster.  Pope Benedict gives example to the flock of Christ by giving Communion only on the tongue and kneeling.  You may choose to follow his lead by kneeling at the Communion rail.
Respond to ‘The Body of Christ’ by saying ‘Amen’ (not ‘thank you’!) as a profession of faith in Him whom you receive.  Do not attempt to take the Host between your fingers or dip It into the chalice (permitted in some countries, but not in England & Wales).  If you receive the Host in your hands, consume It immediately and do not wander away (which will probably lead to the priest chasing after you!).
Non-Catholics and others unable to receive Communion for whatever reason are welcome to come for a blessing.  Please indicate this by crossing your arms over your chest, and if your children have not received their First Holy Communion, make sure they are doing this.
Mass doesn’t end until the final Blessing and Dismissal.  Please do not leave Church before the Priest.  This is disrespectful to Christ (whom the Priest represents) and blocks the exit procession of altar servers.
After the 9.30am Mass there are usually refreshments in the Pastoral Centre and the chance to greet one another.  Please do come and make some new friends.  The proceeds from this go to help the poor.
These guidelines remind us of what ought to be obvious and provides good practice for every member of our parish family so that we all benefit more deeply from the celebration of Holy Mass and, as St Augustine teaches: become what we receive – the Body of Christ.
These guidelines have been compiled by a group of Catholic Priests and vary slightly adapted for different parishes. They may be downloaded here.

Benvenuti nella "Città Eterna!"

The Church of the Most Holy Trinity at the Venerable English College in Rome, looking towards the “Martyrs’ Picture” from the Tribune

Next week, I’m really looking forward to welcoming to Rome a number of friends from my home parish of New Malden. Flicking through the itinerary, it appears Felicity and Malcolm Surridge have prepared a real treat. Whether this is your first time in Rome, or you’re a seasoned visitor, there will be much to see, experience and, dare I say it, eat!

Of course, the main reason why any Catholic comes to Rome is to make pilgrimage, specifically, “ad limina Apostolorum”, to the threshold of the Apostles, and to the Successor of Peter, Christ’s Vicar on earth.

Whilst in Rome, you will, I hope, sense something of the holiness that permeates this city. Of course, its a city of sinners, but also, one of saints… many, many saints: from the beggar saint, Joseph Labre, to the glorious Apostles themselves, Peter and Paul, whose mighty basilica shrines conceal the fact that they are also paupers’ graves.

Buried within this city are many who witnessed, first hand, the Risen Christ; their fidelity to the Lord, even unto the cruel martyrdoms which many of them met, should give us great hope; and indeed, let’s not forget Rome’s present-day saints. As you enjoy walking around the narrow vincoli of the Centro Storico, or the wide boulevards of the Viminale, keep an eye open and you will witness many acts of saintly heroism, whether in caring for the poor, or in preaching the Gospel to an alienated world: two thousand years later, the faith of the Apostles is alive and well in this place, for this is the Church founded by Christ, upon the Rock, who is Peter.

Our Lord in the Gospel makes it clear: Peter will be the rock, the foundation, upon which He will build His Church; He will give to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to open or close it to people as he, Peter, sees fit; lastly, He will give to Peter the power to bind or to loose, in the sense of establishing or prohibiting whatever he deems necessary for the life of the Church. Whilst it is always Christ’s Church, not Peter’s, let us, nonetheless, rejoice in the fact that our Communion in Christ makes us members of this Church – the Church – against which “… the gates of Hell shall not prevail.”

I look forward to seeing you all on Monday and assure you all of my love and prayers for a safe journey and a holy pilgrimage.


Synod of Bishops on the Family 2014

Family life will be the focus of an extraordinary general session of the Synod of Bishops that will meet at the Vatican between 5-19 October 2014. Around 150 Synod fathers will take part in the meeting to discuss the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” It is expected to last two weeks.
The Bishops’ Conference has prepared resources where one may read a full introduction, download the synod’s preparatory document – or Lineamenta – and most importantly,  respond to an online questionnaire in preparation for the 2014 Synod. Click here to prepare your questionnaire response. (They’ve also provided a link to the last Synod of Bishops meeting on the family held in 1980 that resulted in the document Familiaris Consortio.)


In preparation for responding to this questionnaire, Catholic commentators have made reference to this initiative, and you might like to read their opinions, here:
Fr Ray Blake
Protect the Pope

An appeal from 'LIFE'

Baby clothes and equipment are urgently needed by our LIFE Caring Centres at London and Hounslow. If you have any items you no longer require we will gratefully receive them to distribute to mothers in need. LIFE is a pro-Life charity helping unsupported mothers who have chosen to keep their babies. Thank you.
A separate white box for these items is next to the Charity Fayre coloured boxes.

You, a Street Pastor?


Everyone is very welcome at the next meeting of the Union of Catholic Mothers, on Tuesday 12 November, when David Rosemeyer & Isabelle McGrath will be talking about their work with Kingston Street Pastors. If you would like to find out more about the Street Pastors, and how you might help in this valuable ecumenical apostolate, please do speak to them afterwards.
The Union of Catholic Mothers meets on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 19.30 – unless otherwise advised.

Society of St Vincent de Paul


St Joseph’s Parish SVP

helping the homeless, hungry and needy in a variety of ways.

If you think you could join the St Vincent de Paul Society, or are interested to know more, please contact St Joseph’s SVP members via the Parish Office on: 020 8942 2602 or email at: or:


Our Parish is currently involved in four projects to help the homeless and hungry:

  1. Anonymous provision of 6 months rental for an otherwise homeless Parishioner.
  2. Our Annual Pre-Advent Charity Fayre.
  3. We’re about to get involved in a big way in the local Food Bank (next month).
  4. Preparations for our annual participationin the ecumenical Winter Night Shelter.

November ~ Month of the Holy Souls


Pray for the Dead. They pray for you.

Holy Souls Envelopes are available in church. Include the names of your deceased Family and Friends – and a Mass offering – so that November Requiems can be offered for them throughout the Month of the Holy Souls, and also during 2014 . When completed, put your envelope into the collection basket at Mass or through the Presbytery letterbox as soon as possible.
On All Souls’ Day (Saturday 2 November) the 10.00 Mass will be a Requiem for All the Faithful Departed. Other Requiems will be offered throughout the ferial weekdays of November.