From Sunday 5th July, our parish family will once again be welcomed into church to celebrate mass with Fr Alan in person.
Mass will be celebrated at 8:30am and 10:30am.
The 10:30am will still be live streamed for those unable to come to mass in person.
Due to the rules on social distancing, the church will look very different. Pews have been spaced to leave 2m between them. The side aisles have the pews rotated to allow spacing there too. There are 3 pews in the Narthex and one in each of the the side chapels.
To help us plan you are asked to register your intention of which mass you are coming to. This will allow us to prepare but also alert you to the fact the church may be full and you may wish to attend the other mass.
To help keep us all safe, there are some rules to follow when you come to church.
Please view the current newsletter for up to date news and the Sunday readings and reflection.
A series of thoughts from parishioners on what they believe
When Fr Alan asked to write a piece for the “I Believe” series I must admit I was unsure what I would write as I have only been formally accepted into the Catholic faith two years ago. So instead I thought I’d write about what lead me here in the first place.
I grew up going to my local Anglican church, was confirmed and then became an altar server. During this time, I was very close to my maternal grandmother and she used to tell me stories and superstitions that she had learned from her Irish Catholic mother. I particularly liked her antique rosary so she gave it to me before she died. I never considered Catholicism as a path to take though. As I got older I started to become disillusioned with the church and at around 1990 when “new age” ideas were becoming popular I started looking into them. I had a chat with our vicar who told me in no uncertain terms that there was no way crystals, etc had a place in the life of a church goer, so I left.
I then spent the next 10 years or so studying modern druidism, paganism (of various flavours) and British folk traditions and beliefs. Still something was missing though and none of them really gelled with me. Around 2000 I started an Open University degree in religion and art and as part of that I became interested in Buddhism. This then lead to me looking deeper into Zen Buddhism and so I then spent time on retreats at the main monastery and various retreat centres. I liked the teachings of Buddhism as it was more of a philosophy rather than a religion but still there was something missing for me and throughout all my searching different belief systems I had still retained a belief in God.
Anyway, in that time I had got married, divorced and then engaged again. My Catholic Father in Law to be stipulated that the wedding had to be in a church, so due to the timescales involved in trying to get an annulment we compromised on an Anglican ceremony. The vicar requested that we joined the local church in Southwater and although I was hesitant it was very much like returning to my parents’ church, but in a good way – less judgemental. We fitted in but there was still something that niggled at me. I think it was the teaching that you could effectively be as bad in life as you wanted but as long as you are sorry before you died then you are guaranteed a place in Heaven. I also didn’t like the lack of consistency between different churches in the Anglican Tradition. I’m not a “happy clappy” person and found these kinds of services off-putting.
We then moved to Billingshurst and I found the old rosary amongst all my stuff which lead me to suggesting that we go along to St Gabriel’s “just to see what it’s like”. I loved it straight away. The fact that you can go to any Mass anywhere in the world and it’s the same, the Catechism, the richness of teaching outside of the Bible, the veneration of Mary, the Saints, everything made sense to me and I’ve not felt any need to search outside for anything else as it’s all here. Eventually my annulment was granted; I could get our marriage convalidated and then be fully accepted into the Church. I like to think it was Great Granny Kennedy looking over me and giving me a gentle prod via her rosary that lead me to where I am now!
If I had to sum up what I believe I think this phrase I heard in Mass sums it up nicely –
“Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est” – “wherever you find charity and love, that’s where God is”.
I am a “cradle Catholic”, which I view as both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is an advantage because Catholicism in the form of my belief that Jesus died so that we could be redeemed has always been there as a rock. There was a lot of death in my family in my childhood and when my Father died I distinctly remember aged twelve making that all important “leap of faith” believing that I would be reunited with him in the loving embrace of God the Father in heaven someday…. the alternative was too hard to contemplate. The act of praying, whether in daily thanksgiving, asking for forgiveness or for help for those in need seemed logical and was strongly encouraged by the nuns who educated me. That habit has stuck, and I find myself responding to others’ misfortunes with “I shall pray for X or Y” because it brings ME comfort and strength. People are generally too polite to question my belief in the power of prayer, so that is where the disadvantage of being a “cradle Catholic” comes in: has it all been too easy accepting Catholicism from an early age?
On reflection, while my faith is simple it is rooted in my willingness to believe and embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church, receive the sacraments to deepen my faith and participate in the Communion of the Church by “walking the talk” of Jesus through trying to follow his example. I cannot imagine life without access to the sacraments of the Catholic Church as they are pivotal to maintaining and deepening my relationship with God. I need to be able to praise him and thank him in communion with others. I admit to being something of a traditionalist and so I cherish the fact that the clear instructions that Jesus gave the Apostles on how to administer and receive each of the sacraments are still being followed by Catholic priests today all over the world. That sense of the continuity of the Catholic Church through centuries, that “rock” Jesus entrusted Peter to become that many have laid down their lives to protect is hugely comforting and symbolic.
Turning from the universal Church, at a more local level I enjoy being part of a smaller Catholic Community here in Billingshurst led with vision by Father Alan. In these worryingly uncertain times I turn to the Catholic Church for hope. Cardinal Hume wrote “The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” God’s Love, the prospect of salvation through the resurrection, forgiveness of my sins, hope … it is all there for us Catholics, so I am glad I was born a “cradle Catholic” after all.
I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the backbone of my faith, which through its sacraments, liturgies and congregation guides me in my spiritual journey. I believe that my life is a wonderful gift from God, our father. Every precious moment that I breathe is an opportunity to feel and appreciate the creator’s love for me. From the people close to me to distant stars, all are his beautiful creations, which witness his immense love for me. Like him, we are spiritual beings, having invisible souls with our visible earthly bodies. The Church provides me with the essential support for my spiritual life, shielding me from the vain distractions of the world.
I believe in Jesus Christ, the only son of God the father, through whom God came to live among us and to guide us on how to live our lives in fullness as God intended for his children at the time of creation. In today’s world, our senses are bombarded with distractions in the form of wealth, career, power, comfort, how we look etc which occupies most of our time and energy thereby misleading us to live shallow, meaningless lives. Also, in this pursuit of material things, we are blind-walking ourselves into misery and suffering, as Christ mentions in the gospels “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Christ by his life, teachings, death and resurrection showed us the way to lead our lives to uncover the purpose, value and meaning in our lives. Regular attendance of church services helps me glue on to a life in Christ and grow spiritually.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the giver of life. By the sacrament of Baptism, I received the gift of Holy Spirit, who is constantly helping me in coming closer to God. Even with my preoccupation with worldly things, he at times opens my eyes to recognize God and his grace that surrounds me in my everyday life and also at times of difficulties and suffering, he comes to my help to console and comfort me in unexplainable personal and unique ways.
I believe in the communion of saints, who by their exemplary lives proved the truth in the Holy Catholic Church’s teachings. Every celebration of Eucharist reminds me of how the lives of ordinary men were transformed by the Holy Spirit into lives of immense value, who felt God’s presence, love and peace at all stages of their lives and most importantly at the end of their earthly lives. The transformation of Saint Peter from a cowardly man who denied Christ at the time of his death, into a brave man, who even after knowing the deadly consequences to his life, walked into the heart of the Roman Empire that persecuted his master. Also we see in the life of Saint Paul, who was ruthless in his career ambition of persecuting Christians, was transformed into an enlightened follower of Christ, who considered that all his previous learning and achievements to be worthless when compared to his new life of Christ living in him.
The Catholic mother church is an important part of me. It has been the guiding light for generations of Christians and it always has its doors open for me like the house of the father to his prodigal son.
Some years ago I was at a wedding, when one of the guests pointed at my crucifix on the chain around my neck and asked ‘What does it mean to wear that?’
‘It means everything’, I replied, surprising myself at how quickly the reply came. Having Christ around my neck is a constant reminder of how central God is in my life. It is also a visible reminder to myself and those I meet, and that is equally important, because the one thing God is not is an isolationist, and the one thing he expects of us, is to proclaim our faith.
At the very start of time, I believe creation came about when love burst through in the form of God. Bishop Robert Barron explains that where there is love, there is a lover: God; and beloved: the Son; and love between the Father and Son is the sigh of the Holy Spirit: So being love, it is only to be expected that God desires our love: after all God did create us.
I think that being a Catholic is a special privilege because our journey follows Christ in the purest of footsteps, following a faith led path, rather than a state led religion. What is special about being a Catholic is that we have the Word spoken to us through the Scriptures; the practice of giving public worship through the Liturgy; and being able to develop intimacy with Christ through the Eucharist and ongoing formation.
I believe that God is with me every moment of every day: I just need to have my eyes open.
So when I wake up, my first words are ‘Good morning Father, Good morning Jesus, Good Morning Holy Spirit.’
I then have a conversation ‘Father, I hope in You’ and I get the reply ‘Sue, I hope in You’. and so it goes with each of the Trinity. I repeat this process saying Father I trust in You, and then Father I love you. Then I am ready to say ‘I believe’ and to pray that I will do God’s will rather than mine. This means seeing Jesus in every person and situation: not easy!
So why when we (normally) experience the Eucharist every Sunday do we need a feast to celebrate Corpus Christi? It is in the Gospel of John I get my answer.
Jesus said ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ [John 6:35] and ‘…anyone who eats this bread will live for ever’ [John 6:58].
Despite all that has happened in this pandemic: the closure of our churches and the pain of not being able to receive the Eucharist, and whatever trials there may be in post Covid-19 times, I would answer as Simon Peter answered ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ [John 6.67- 69]
I believe in the Holy Trinity and in the Incarnation of its Second Person who has called each one of us to a personal relationship with Him and has given us the Holy Spirit by which all things can be done in accordance with the will of the Father. I further affirm the need for veneration of our Blessed Mother who is the most important intercessor we can have. Our guardian angel and the other angels act to help us come closer to God and we can call on them and the saints to aid us. I believe that the Trinity is reflected here on earth by three things, in this order: prayer, the sacraments and scripture. Each one of us is asked to respond to the great commission therefore our lives should be consistent with this evangelisation. Without prayer we cannot hope to deepen our relationship with God and this means we need to have a serious and sustained prayer life.
By prayer, I do not simply mean the formal prayers of the Church – which have their own merits – but time spent in contemplation and adoration of the Lord. There is no higher prayer than the mass – the Son’s offering to the Father – so daily mass for those in a position to attend is vital. That means careful preparation so we are in a full a state of grace as possible before we receive the Eucharist. The mass should be the centre of our daily prayers but we also need prayer time throughout the day. The Lord’s own life was full of accounts of how He would spend time alone with the Father – we need to do the same. In Gethsemane the Lord chided the apostles because they could not spend one hour with Him. I take that as a minimum amount for a substantial prayer life.
Daily reception of the Eucharist can transform your life. But it also means regular use of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Each sacrament brings us closer to God but we should be devout and thorough in our preparation for them. I particularly feel that the sacrament of Confirmation – as witnessed in Acts – gives us the strength to enable the Spirit to work through us so we should be looking for the charisms of the Spirit in our daily lives.
St Jerome said that ignorance of scripture was ignorance of Christ so we should be familiar with scripture and make it part of our daily reading. There is an excellent expositor of it on YouTube – Dr Brant Pitre from Catholic Productions as well as Bishop Barron among others. However, knowing scripture is not enough in itself; it must be matched by our deeds. St James reminds us that faith alone is not sufficient; it must have works to be truly alive.
With regard to this, St John Henry Newman used these famous words, ‘…He has committed some work to me he has not committed to another. I have my mission… I shall do good, I shall do His work’. We each have a mission from the Lord so it is incumbent on us to discover it. Mine is: the conversion of sinners. Which means starting with myself! I have built a mission house in the Philippines as it seems that is where the Lord wishes me to evangelise. It will be too late to stand before the Lord after death and say… ‘I didn’t know…’ I believe that this earth is passing away so we must use what time we have to work in the Lord’s service so that He may receive us with the words of scripture, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’
A big thank you to all those Parishioners who have set up standing orders. New standing order can be set up using the details below:
Account Name: RCD of A&B St Gabriel, Billingshurst
Sort code: 40-05-20
Account number: 51076779
To make a one-off payment direct to the bank, please use the details below:
Account Name: St Gabriel
Sort code: 40-05-20
Account number: 51076779
In addition, the Diocese has set up a Just giving page for those who normally contribute cash in the weekly collection. Simply click on the button below to go to the JustGiving page. Click Donate. Select or enter an amount, (if you wish to you can change the additional contribution to ‘other’ and leave as 0.00) click Continue. You must enter ‘St Gabriels Billingshurst’ into the message so that the Diocese will be able to allocate the amount to our account. Click Continue. Select if you wish to add Gift Aid, even if you don’t you must select No before you can click Continue. On the payment page, select how you wish to pay and make your payment as directed.
Your continued contributions are very important for the Parish and the work that Father Alan undertakes on our behalf. We are very grateful for your continued support.
I hope that you are well, and keeping an eye open for all your relations, friends and neighbours. We too need to keep in touch with our Holy Mother the Church, looking to her for love and support in these times.
The church building is now closed but our Church is still very much alive.
I will celebrate Mass privately, without a congregation :-
Mass Intentions can still be received by the WhatsApp Chat or email.
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There will be people living within our many parishes who are anxious or alone and would welcome a friendly phone call or home cooked meal, delivered at a safe distance, to their door, help with shopping or posting mail, collecting urgent supplies.
We have a form offering all of these things which can be posted through neighbour’s letter boxes.
If you are able please consider, printed and completing a form for your neighbours.
Click the the image for a pdf version to print at home.
We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and inerrant in the original writings. We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that the lost and sinful man must be saved, and that man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We believe in and practice the holy ordinance of water baptism, which signifies the believer’s death, burial, and resurrection into new life with Christ Jesus, and the regular celebration of Holy Communion as commanded by our Lord.
We believe in the present ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Vision for our Parish is to be a loving and welcoming community where we hear the Word of God and grow in faith as we learn to live it.
Nourished by Christ’s living presence in the Eucharist and the sacraments and empowered by God’s Spirit working within us, we are called to reach out and serve the wider community, especially supporting those in need and sharing with all the Joy and Hope of the Gospel.