The Present National Lockdown:
Local Infection rates mean we continue ‘proceed with caution’ as we open for Public Mass. We have further reduced the number of tickets available for each celebration to just 16, thus ensuring the safest environment possible. Our decision to remain open will be constantly monitored and if we need to close the church at any time we shall do so, and make every effort to inform parishioners via the website, online bulletin and through school channels.
To attend Mass, please remember to book tickets in advance using the same formularies as before:
1 Ticket is necessary for 1 single person, or a couple from the same household or bubble who will sit next to each other. Please do try to add both names in the forename box whilst making your booking as this helps our Stewards to plan seating properly.
2 Tickets are required for 2 single people (ie not in the same household or bubble, and who will need to sit apart) Please book two Tickets for families of three people or more, and add their names to the booking.
Please remember that the Obligation to attend Mass on Sunday or Holy Days is still suspended during this period of pandemic. Those who are required to shield, must think very carefully before coming to church. Masses will continue to be livestreamed on our YouTube channel.
The Church will be open for Private Prayer on Sunday Afternoon from 2.00pm until 4.00pm. To be notified of livestreams as they happen, please subscribe to the YouTube Channel. Please click below to go to our YouTube channel:
Let us keep each other in prayer, and pray also that these restrictions will bring about the desired result in reducing the present levels of Covid-19 infection and transmission throughout our region and country
Updated Advice for attending St Joseph’s during the National Lockdown
Click the link below
The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18 – 25 January – the octave of the Conversion of St. Paul.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2021 has been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland. The theme that was chosen, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.
Today the community has fifty sisters, all women from different generations, Church traditions, countries and continents. In their diversity the sisters are a living parable of communion. They remain faithful to a life of prayer, life in community and the welcoming of guests. The sisters share the grace of their monastic life with visitors and volunteers who go to Grandchamp for a time of retreat, silence, healing or in search of meaning.
For 2021, the sisters are inviting churches across the world to enter into their tradition of prayer and silence that is rooted in the ancient traditions of the Church catholic.
Go and Do
Christian Aid has provided Go and Do action points for each of the daily reflections – linking into the important work of Christian Aid in the relief of poverty and advocacy of justice.
Christmas at St Joseph’s
Sincere thanks to everyone who made our church ready for the beautiful celebrations which have taken place these past days. Huge thanks too to all who have worked hard to make our liturgies so very fitting. Thank you all – and may God bless you. Fr Stephen
Festival of Lessons and Carols led by St Joseph’s School
Pope Francis Proclaims “Year of St Joseph”
In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.
The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To celebrate the anniversary, Pope Francis has proclaimed a special “Year of St Joseph,” beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the same feast in 2021.
The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
A beloved, tender, obedient father
Saint Joseph, in fact, “concretely expressed his fatherhood” by making an offering of himself in love “a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home,” writes Pope Francis, quoting his predecessor St Paul VI.
And because of his role at “the crossroads between the Old and New Testament,” St Joseph “has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people” (PC, 1). In him, “Jesus saw the tender love of God,” the one that helps us accept our weakness, because “it is through” and despite “our fears, our frailties, and our weakness” that most divine designs are realized. “Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser,” emphasizes the Pontiff, and it is by encountering God’s mercy especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we “experience His truth and tenderness,” – because “we know that God’s truth does not condemn us, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us” (2).
Joseph is also a father in obedience to God: with his ‘fiat’ he protects Mary and Jesus and teaches his Son to “do the will of the Father.” Called by God to serve the mission of Jesus, he “cooperated… in the great mystery of Redemption,” as St John Paul II said, “and is truly a minister of salvation” (3).
Welcoming the will of God
At the same time, Joseph is “an accepting Father,” because he “accepted Mary unconditionally” — an important gesture even today, says Pope Francis, “in our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident.” But the Bridegroom of Mary is also the one who, trusting in the Lord, accepts in his life even the events that he does not understand, “setting aside his own ideas” and reconciling himself with his own history.
Joseph’s spiritual path “is not one that explains, but accepts” — which does not mean that he is “resigned.” Instead, he is “courageously and firmly proactive,” because with “Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude,” and full of hope, he is able “to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.” In practice, through St. Joseph, it is as if God were to repeat to us: “Do not be afraid!” because “faith gives meaning to every event, however happy or sad,” and makes us aware that “God can make flowers spring up from stony ground.” Joseph “did not look for shortcuts but confronted reality with open eyes and accepted personal responsibility for it.” For this reason, “he encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak” (4).
A creatively courageous father, example of love
Patris corde highlights “the creative courage” of St. Joseph, which “emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties.” “The carpenter of Nazareth,” explains the Pope, was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting in divine providence.” He had to deal with “the concrete problems” his Family faced, problems faced by other families in the world, and especially those of migrants.
In this sense, St. Joseph is “the special patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty.” As the guardian of Jesus and Mary, Joseph cannot “be other than the guardian of the Church,” of her motherhood, and of the Body of Christ. “Consequently, every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is ‘the child’ whom Joseph continues to protect.” From St Joseph, writes Pope Francis, “we must learn… to love the Church and the poor” (5).
A father who teaches the value, dignity and joy of work
“A carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family,” St Joseph also teaches us “the value, the dignity and the joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own labour.” This aspect of Joseph’s character provides Pope Francis the opportunity to launch an appeal in favour of work, which has become “a burning social issue” even in countries with a certain level of well-being. “there is a renewed need to appreciate the importance of dignified work, of which Saint Joseph is an exemplary patron,” the Pope writes.
Work, he says, “is a means of participating in the work of salvation, an opportunity to hasten the coming of the Kingdom, to develop our talents and abilities, and to put them at the service of society and fraternal communion.” Those who work, he explains, “are cooperating with God himself, and in some way become creators of the world around us.” Pope Francis encourages everyone “to rediscover the value, the importance and the necessity of work for bringing about a new ‘normal’ from which no one is excluded.” Especially in light of rising unemployment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pope calls everyone to “review our priorities” and to express our firm conviction that no young person, no person at all, no family should be without work!” (6).
A father “in the shadows,” centred on Mary and Jesus
Taking a cue from The Shadow of the Father — a book by Polish writer Jan Dobraczyński — Pope Francis describes Joseph’s fatherhood of Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father.”
“Fathers are not born, but made,” says Pope Francis. “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.” Unfortunately, in today’s society, children “often seem orphans, lacking fathers” who are able to introduce them “to life and reality.” Children, the Pope says, need fathers who will not try to dominate them, but instead raise them to be “capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities.”
This is the sense in which St Joseph is described as a “most chaste” father, which is the opposite of domineering possessiveness. Joseph, says Pope Francis, “knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.”
Happiness for Joseph involved a true gift of self: “In him, we never see frustration, but only trust,” writes Pope Francis. “His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” Joseph stands out, therefore, as an exemplary figure for our time, in a world that “needs fathers,” and not “tyrants”; a society that “rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction.”
True fathers, instead, “refuse to live the lives of their children for them,” and instead respect their freedom. In this sense, says Pope Francis, a father realizes that “he is most a father and an educator at the point when he becomes ‘useless,’ when he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied.” Being a father, the Pope emphasizes, “has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a ‘sign’ pointing to a greater fatherhood”: that of the “heavenly Father” (7).
A daily prayer to St Joseph… and a challenge
In his letter, Pope Francis notes how, “Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds [Morning Prayer]” he has “recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary.” This prayer, he says, expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph,” on account of its closing words: “My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power.”
At the conclusion of his Letter, he adds another prayer to St Joseph, which he encourages all of us to pray together:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Source: Vatican News
Updated: Face Coverings Mandatory in Churches from Saturday 8th August
In order to keep the spread of COVID-19 under control, the government has announced that face coverings must be worn in places of worship from Saturday 8th August. This is enforceable by law for all except those who are exempt from wearing a face covering.
Public Health officials have been given extra powers to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public spaces with fixed penalty charges. However, their approach is to educate rather than penalise. It is for the benefit of the common good that a face covering should now be worn by those who are able to do so.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) has now updated Bishop Marcus, who in turn has issued guidance to the clergy, including the following additions to the previous guidelines which are directly relevant to laity attending Mass:
Face coverings will be mandatory in Places of Worship from Saturday 8th August 2020. Parishioners attending churches should bring face coverings with them, and wear them in church unless they are exempt from doing so. This is for the good of all who gather in the church for Mass as it is an enclosed public space where there are people from differing households who they do not normally meet.
Worshippers should limit their interactions with anyone they are not attending church with, i.e. if they are attending corporate worship with one other household, wherever possible they should maintain social distancing with anyone outside of this group.
Readers should sanitise their hands before and after reading and should avoid touching the microphones or the Lectionary during the Liturgy of the Word, apart from page turning. Readers may remove their face coverings at the lectern to read and should replace them before stepping away from it, providing the lectern is sufficiently distant from the congregation
Priests in the sanctuary providing they are sufficiently distant (2 metres or more) from the congregation do not need to wear a face covering except when distributing Holy Communion. Other ministers in the sanctuary should wear face coverings and remain socially distant from the celebrant.
Unless otherwise instructed by the priest or stewards, a communicant should unloop their face covering and with arms at ‘full stretch’ extend their hands as flatly as possible, palms upwards, one of top of the other, to receive Holy Communion. They should then immediately consume the Sacred Host and replace their face covering before moving back to their seat.
Your Giving to Your Parish
A number of parishioners have been in touch to ask how they can continue to make their weekly offerings to St Joseph’s Church here in Bilton. Thank you all for asking!
There are a number of ways, the first might be to consider setting up a Standing Order with your bank, please download the form below, or set it up using the following details via your own Internet Banking Service:
Account Name: Diocese of Leeds St Josephs Harrogate
Sort Code: 40-27-15 Account Number 11017500
(Please fill out this form if you are a UK Tax Payer and would like us to claim back the Gift Aid on your donations – at no extra cost to you. This part of the form would then need to be sent back to the Presbytery, address below)
The second way might be to use the new text service:
To contribute £5 to St Joseph’s Parish Offertory, please text CHURCH BILTON to 70500
**Please note that it is a feature of the text-giving facility that allows for no more and no less than £5 to be given to the Offertory via each text. If your regular weekly parish giving is either more or less than this amount, please feel free either to send more than one text – or maybe use this facility just once a fortnight or once a month.**
The third way is to send a cheque made payable to “St Joseph’s Church” to
St Joseph’s Presbytery,
281 Skipton Road,
Harrogate, HG1 3HD.
Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times, please be assured that I hold each one of you, your families and loved ones in my prayers and Masses each day.
Fr Stephen PP